Posts tagged with "Black Lives Matter"

Justice Department says Trump’s talk of reinstatment could fuel more violence from his supporters

July 12, 2021

The Justice Department is warning that former President Donald Donald Trump’s delusional claims that he’ll be reinstated to the White House could fuel more political violence from his supporters, CNN reports.

Trump and some of his allies on the right-wing fringe have pushed what CNN characterizes as “the ridiculous theory” that he could be reinstated as president in August. There is no legal or constitutional mechanism for that to happen, and Trump’s claims of a “stolen” 2020 election have been fully debunked.

Federal prosecutors brought up Trump’s rhetoric this week in one of the US Capitol riot cases.

The rioter, Marine Corps veteran Alex Harkrider, asked a judge to discontinue his GPS tracking and remove his ankle monitor. The Justice Department opposes this request, saying Trump’s rhetoric could inspire Harkrider to become violent in the future. Harkrider has pleaded not guilty.

“Former President Trump continues to make false claims about the election, insinuate that he may be reinstalled in the near future as President without another election, and minimize the violent attack on the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. “Television networks continue to carry and report on those claims, with some actually giving credence to the false reporting.”

Prosecutors continued, linking Trump’s rhetoric to the Capitol rioter’s case: “The defendant in this case is not a good candidate to be out in the community without electronic monitoring to ensure the safety of the community and the safety of democracy in the current environment.”

Indeed, according to CNN, this isn’t the first time Trump’s post-presidency lying about the 2020 election has become an issue for some of his ardent supporters who were charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Earlier this spring, federal judges and prosecutors cited Trump’s rhetoric during detention hearings for some of the Capitol rioters. Judges and prosecutors alike were concerned that Trump’s words could once again incite political violence. Trump’s language made it more difficult for some of his supporters to argue that they could safely be released from jail before trial.

In the Harkrider case, prosecutors say he tried to “obstruct the historically peaceful transition of power and overthrow the government” on January 6. He brought a tomahawk ax to the Capitol that day—his lawyers claimed it was only for self-protection from Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

He asked the judge to remove his GPS tracking. His lawyer says he’s paying a monthly fee of $110 for the monitoring, which is difficult because he “lives on a small pension from the Government, which he receives for his total disability” from his military service. He was a lance corporal in the Marines and served in Iraq and Afghanistan before exiting the military in 2012.

“This is a financial, emotional and physical hardship for Mr. Harkrider,” his lawyer wrote.

As of Friday morning, federal Judge Thomas Hogan hasn’t issued a decision about the GPS monitoring. He released Harkrider from jail in April after he spent three months behind bars.

Research contact: @CNN

Walmart removes guns from floor displays, citing ‘civil unrest’

November 2, 2020

Retail giant Walmart has removed guns and ammunition from its U.S. sales floors out of concerns about theft amid “civil unrest” during Black Lives Matter protests against police killings in areas nationwide, The Huffington Post reports.

Guns will remain available for purchase upon request, said the company, which sells firearms in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores.

Walmart has pulled guns off its shelves in the past. The current move comes after the October 26 shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia police —while the 27-year-old was experiencing a mental health crisis and after his family had called for an ambulance to help him.

“We have seen some isolated civil unrest and as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers,” Walmart said in a statement first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s important to note that we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen,” the company said.

Walmart said in a letter to store managers cited by the Journal that the decision was made “due to the current unrest in isolated areas of the country and out of an abundance of caution.” A Walmart in Philadelphia was trashed during this week’s unrest.

Walmart has been pushed to make adjustments to its firearms department after other incidents of violence. After a mass shooting left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the retailer raised the minimum age to purchase guns to 21. In 2019, after 23 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in Texas, the retailer stopped selling ammunition for assault-style rifles.

Research contact: @HuffPost 

Editor’s note: As of Monday, November 2, Walmart had reversed its position: ““As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today,” a company spokesperson said.

Chicago’s famed Second City improv theater is up for sale

October 9, 2020

Following a social-media tumult sparked by a series of racially accusatory tweets posted by former performer and employee Dewayne Perkins, Second City’s co-owner, Andrew Alexander, told staffers last June that he was apologizing for his “many failures as a steward of an important cultural institution” and stepping away from one of Chicago’s most famous and internationally influential theaters, The New York Daily News reports.

In particular, the Daily News said, Perkins had criticized Second City prior’s reluctance to fundraise for the Black Lives Matter movement without also financially supporting police-related causes.

Three onths later, on October 6, a Los Angeles-based investment bank has put the whole institution up for sale, the Chicago Tribune states. Second City is a mainstay of Chicago’s famed theater scene but also is a for-profit, live-entertainment operation devastated by a forced closure.

What we are seeking is critical re-investment in the business that will allow us to continue to grow in the right ways and with the right resources while remaining an oasis of speaking truth to power and providing vital human connection in an increasingly complex world,” Alexander said in a statement released by the bankers, Houlihan Lokey.

 “I do think the plan to sell the whole company presents the opportunity for Second City to continue to succeed well into the future, ensuring financial stability,” he told the Tribune.

Stability has hardly been Second City’s byword, of late. In June, a group of alumni and former staffers took to social media and released an “open letter” to the comedy theater that issued a series of demands—mostly relating to issues surrounding Second City’s relationship with racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

Alexander’s exit was part of the theater’s coordinated response to that letter, although he also had many supporters among Black alumni of the theater, some of whom said they had not been heard. In recent weeks, the theater has cast itself as having learned from past mistakes. The statement put out in support of the sale reflects such language.

Privately held throughout its 61-year history and located at 1616 N. Wells St., Second City is co-owned by Alexander and D’Arcy Stuart, although its president, Steve Johnston, also has a small equity share.

In essence, Alexander and Stuart have decided that rather than try to sell about half of the institution, it makes more sense to market the entire operation, especially since Alexander has exited the business and moved out of state.

A source close to the theater said that such an arrangement was logical, given the theater’s ongoing closure due to the pandemic and the consequent total collapse in box office revenue (and many continued expenses) now falling on one main owner. It remains possible, the source said, that only Alexander’s share will sell. But that would depend on the desires of buyers.

No price has been formally mentioned but a source said informal internal conversations have focused on the region of $50 million.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Give me some skin! This family-owned bandage company was founded for people of color

August 19, 2020

Just as “flesh-colored” crayons are politically incorrect; so too are flesh-colored bandages—which, for nearly as long as we can remember, have been available stores in strictly “neutral” colors, ignoring the reality of multicultural skin tones.

The crayons were phased out by Crayola in 1962 and replaced with a “peach” color; then updated again this June with a Colors of the World product that offers a variety of shades—from deepest almond, to medium golden, to light rose, and all the dark and light shades in between.

What’s more, just as Black Lives Matter took hold nationwide—and after 100 years in business—Band-Aid also finally expanded its shade range this June. About time, most commenters said, while others were quick to point out that other companies already had emerged to fill the gap namely Tru Colour, and Browndages, Vogue Magazine reports.

 

Browndages was founded in 2018 when Intisar Mahdi and her husband, Rashid, were inspired to provide a better experience for their family. “The bandages we were buying did not match the flesh of our family,” Intisar told Vogue from their home in Columbus, Ohio, “so we thought to create our own company.”

Also drawing from personal experience, Browndages has developed a line of more whimsical bandages for kids. The couple noticed that their three children—now ages 5, 8, and 10—were very interested in wearing colorful bandages that had princesses and superheroes on them. “But none of those images that we’d purchase looked like them,” Intisar says. Secondly, “they couldn’t really grow up to be a princess.”

Above, a box of the new Browndages. (Photo source: King Day Productions)

As an alternative, the Mahdis had the UK-based artist Princess Karibo draw images in the likeness of their own children, illustrating them as aspiring veterinarians, chefs, astronauts, ballerinas, and more. “We wanted to show them what they could actually attain,” Intisar told Vogue.

 

After seeing themselves depicted in this way, their oldest and youngest daughters expressed interest in the culinary arts and veterinarian field, respectively. “It’s amazing to see how that representation can expand a child’s mind. They start to believe, ‘I can do this too’,” Intisar says.

The Mahdis currently work full-time jobs while running Browndages—Intisar in IT Management, and Rashid in logistics. They’ve divided up their tasks accordingly: Intisar focuses on the customer service aspects of the job, answering emails; while Rashid focuses on fulfilling orders; sometimes enlisting the help of family friends.

Recently, the brand earned the attention of Instagram after actress Lupita Nyong’o posted herself with a Browndage on her knee. “Finally, a bandage that blends!“ Nyong’o exclaimed in the caption.. “Thank you, Browndages for helping me conceal my clumsiness.”

Intisar is still on a high from the post. “It felt really good to be seen by someone on her level,” she says. “It gave us exposure in places that we may not have reached otherwise.”

That attention, along with the imperative to support Black-owned businesses, has led Browndages to sell out of all their bandages, though they’re working to restock the products this year, along with a new offering: a full first-aid kit.

Research contact: @voguemagazine

Film your day on July 25 for a chance to be co-director of a documentary premiering at Sundance

July 27, 2020

On Saturday, July 25, film your day and you may become part of an historic global documentary, produced by Ridley Scott, directed by Kevin Macdonald, and premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2020, history is being made every day, the collaborators say on their Life In A Day website: Australian bush fires. Civil unrest in Hong Kong. A pandemic that is taking precious lives and has changed the way we live. Protests in every corner of America—and around the world—to assert that Black Lives Matter.

“But in the midst of these extraordinary events, life still continues,” they say, adding, “We share moments, music, and meals. We dance. We laugh. We cry. We love. We fear. We hope. What if we captured all of it in a single day?

Through August 2, filmmakers worldwide are invited to upload their July 25 footage of a day in their lives to the official site. Anyone can participate and submissions from all over the world will be woven together to create a feature film; which will be shown not only at Sundance, but will be posted on YouTube for posterity.

Show what life looks like to you: either your everyday routine, or something special that’s happening on that day. You can film the people in your life, or capture the day of someone you find interesting

You can film as much or as little as you like. The collaborators—who also will serve on the judging team, with input from researchers and editors—will select “the most compelling footage” to include —and will grant a co-director credit to the chosen few.

Your video(s) should be recorded between 12:01a.m. and 11:59p.m. in your local time zone on July 25, You are encouraged to film your world however you see it; however, no violent, graphic, unlawful, or dangerous content, will be selected. Please follow the Official Terms

The ambition of the team is to create a time capsule to show future generations what it was like to be alive on July 25, 2020.

Learn more about filming requirements and how to take part. Participants can submit footage in any language.

Research contact: @LifeInADay2020

Fighting racism with racism? Instagram Stories introduces a ‘mute white people’ sticker

July 15, 2020

Conservative commentator Katie Pavlich posted an image on July 14 showing the new “mute white people” sticker that Instagram has allowed on its Stories feature, The Post Millenial reports.

“Instagram has a ‘mute white people’ button in stories,” Pavlich tweeted simply.

According to The Washington Examiner, this button is called the “unbothered sticker,” and it was created by Refinery29, which primarily caters to leftist, Millennial women. The sticker was uploaded to GIPHY, and available for use on Instagram, along with others such as “Pay Black Women,” “Reparation$$$,” and “Afro-Latina Magic.” There have been more than 3 billion views of these uploads.

The concept of “muting white people” comes as the Black Lives Matter protests continue nationwide. As part of this new activist movement, there has been a substantial amount of discussion about White people’s responsibility to step back and let those who are Black, Indigenous, persons of color have space to speak.

Indeed, The Post Millennial notes, “Books like Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility have elevated the perspective of those who would say that the voices of white people should be diminished in the area of critical race theory in favor of the voices of people who are traditionally marginalized.”

As the protests heated up in the wake of George Floyd’s death, social media accounts became the domain of social justice. Calls to support Black Lives Matter appeared across the platforms. On Instagram, there was a day when users were encouraged to place black squares in place of photos to emphasize Black lives.

At that time, “White silence” also became a thing to be decried.  “…You’re telling me that you have no hesitation posting a selfie of yourself… or what you’re eating for dinner, and yet you’re telling me that you’re afraid to say something because you might hurt other people’s feelings?” said Broadway star Jelani Alladin of the lack of social justice posting on behalf of white people.

“Or you don’t know what to say? Or you don’t have an audience to reach? Were you thinking those things when you posted the other photos? I don’t think you were.”

Executive Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley Savala Trepczynski said,”White silence is incredibly powerful. It’s not neutral. It acts like a weapon. It’s not even silent. It speaks volumes, right? And the people of colour who are around a silent white person, they hear the silence. And they feel it.

“And they feel what it means, which is: I don’t have your back. Or I don’t care enough to get uncomfortable to speak out. Or you know, despite the fact that black and brown people have been acting up and protesting on our own behalf for centuries, I still don’t quite get it enough to say something,” Trepczynski said.

In New Discourses, James Lindsay wrote that “The world seems completely bent right now on forcing everyone to become an activist whether they want to or not.” Both speaking out is speech and not speaking out is speech. Maybe there should be a “mute everyone” button.

Research contact: @tpostmillennial

Trump defends Confederate flag in latest appeal to white voters

July 7, 2020

President Donald Trump—who posted a video of one of his supporters whooping the phrase, “White Power,” just last week on Twitter—spent Monday morning, July 6, bashing NASCAR’s decision to prohibit Confederate flags at its races; while also falsely asserting that a top Black driver, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, had engaged in a hoax involving a noose found in his garage stall.

Trump’s reference to the Confederate flag—and its role in a sport followed by the mostly white fans among whom the president remains popular—was “the latest remark by the president as he tries to rally his culturally conservative base behind his struggling re-election effort,” The New York Times reported.

While NASCAR and other organizations have moved to retire symbols of the Confederacy, and lawmakers in Mississippi voted to bring down the state flag featuring the Confederate emblem, Trump has increasingly used racist language and references to portray himself as a protector of the history of the American South. He has called the phrase “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate,” and he has repeatedly tried to depict pockets of violence during protests against entrenched racism as representative of the protest movement as a whole.

The president also delivered official speeches over the weekend that also emphasized defending American heritage, although he avoided explicit references to totems of the Confederacy.

“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter on Monday.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina and a friend of the president, departed from his usual praise on Monday, saying that he disagreed with Trump’s tweet.

“They’re trying to grow the sport,” Graham said, according to the CNN reporter Manu Raju, referring to NASCAR’s ban on confederate flags, which it announced last month. “And I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life and if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business.”

Graham, who is facing a strong challenge from Jaime Harrison, a Black Democrat, in his re-election bid, according to the Times, said that “one way you grow the sport is you take images that divide us and ask that they not be brought into the venue. That makes sense to me.” He said that Mr. Wallace does not have “anything to apologize for,” and that his fellow drivers should be applauded for supporting him.

“I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax,” Graham said, according to Mr. Raju.

The noose incident last month at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama came to an end after  F.B.I. officials, who were called in by NASCAR, found that the knot had been tied into the rope as early as October 2019, well before anyone would have known that Mr. Wallace would be assigned that stall for the race.

Another NASCAR driver, Tyler Reddick, replied to Trump on Twitter Monday, saying, “We don’t need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support.”

According to the Times, Trump’s tweet came just days after he delivered a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota as part of the July 4 holiday, in which he denounced Democrats as radical anarchists and said that children are taught in schools to “hate” the United States.

“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” the presient said in what was clearly a campaign speech.

Research contact: @nytimes

American freedom is not just celebrated on July 4: Here’s what you need to know about Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

It’s a day that celebrates and commemorates the true meaning of America—freedom, equality, and justice for all—and it will be observed with jubilation this year, as U.S. citizens nationwide continue to hit the streets to insist that Black Lives Matter.

It’s called Juneteenth and, over 150 years later, it will be observed by more Americans than ever before on Friday, June 19, ABC News reports.

American history lessons generally teach that when President Abraham Lincoln went public with the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862—three days after Union troops halted the advance of Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee near Sharpsburg, Maryland in the Battle of Antietam—it ended the Civil War and slavery.

But it took another 30 months and 19 days for the order to be carried out in Galveston, Texas—the last municipality in the United States where African Americans were still enslaved.

Texas was one of the seven Confederate States of America, and even when Lincoln’s executive order was enacted on January 1, 1863, “they weren’t going to recognize that anyway,” Dwayne Jones, executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation, recently told ABC News.

“In fact, there were slave owners who moved from parts of the South, from slave states, to continue the practice of slavery in Texas because they knew they could practice there for a longer time without interruption,” Kelly E. Navies, a museum specialist and oral historian with the National Museum of African American History and Culture confirmed to the network in an interview.

Jones said that when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with a force of 2,000 Union troops dressed in red to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, it was “very significant.”

During the church-oriented event, a hog was roasted as songs filled the air in between readings of the proclamation.

A combination of the month and date of Granger’s arrival in Galveston transformed the holiday into the name it’s been known as for over 100 years: Juneteenth.

“The celebration of Juneteenth gives people a chance to pause and think about the history behind what we are going through right now,” said Navies. “It gives people the opportunity to ask themselves what are the root causes to the racial conflicts we are experiencing.”

Observances of Juneteenth have generally become more secular, but the tradition remains as celebrations have expanded to cities including BuffaloKansas City,  and Chicagoand this year, will also be seen in New York State and others nationwide due to the success of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional in-person Juneteenth gatherings have been scheduled to take place through livestreaming services like Facebook Live and Zoom, ABC News reports.

The police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 and the protests that followed have generated an increased interest in the history of Juneteenth.

“We thought for the 150th anniversary five years ago, we would have gotten more attention, but it really took, unfortunately, other events in order to bring attention to it,” said Jones.

Research contact: @ABC

Colin Kaepernick joins Medium as board member, and contributor on civil rights and race issues

June 19, 2020

Former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick will join the board of the blogging platform Medium, CEO Ev Williams announced on Thursday, June 18.

“In addition to the board seat, Medium will partner with Colin and Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America, and to elevate emerging voices from communities of color,” Williams said.

Specifically, the former San Francisco 49ers QB will write stories based on interviews with high profile leaders, activists, and athletes. He also will write and work with the editorial leadership of Level, Medium’s publication for black and brown men; and of and Momentum, a new blog on Medium about fighting anti-black racism.

Indeed, Williams said, he has known Kaepernick for some time and has envisioned a successful partnership. The Medium CEO said, “I met Colin a couple years ago and have been wanting to work with him ever since. When he launched Kaepernick Publishing in February, we started a conversation and quickly realized how closely our ideals and sensibilities align. I know he will bring valuable insights and leadership to Medium, especially in this moment when the world is finally catching up to his vision on racial justice.”

According to a report by Axios, Kaepernick sparked years of controversy when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and oppression in 2016. NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell recently told ESPN  that the league should have better listened to players who protested.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Gooddell said. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter.”

Now, Williams says, “Kaepernick Publishing’s mission is to uplift and elevate voices for Black and Brown communities, something that has been desperately needed in the publishing space. Through this partnership, Colin will be publishing across Medium’s platform …. He will be sharing his thoughts on anti-Black racism in our society, and Medium; and Kaepernick Publishing will co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color.”

He summed it up by describing Kaepernick as “an incisive, independent thinker, whose integrity has inspired so many,” and noting that, “The world needs more of that.”

Research contact: @Medium

Aunt Jemima brand to change name and image over ‘racial stereotype’

June 18, 2020

In the spirit of Black Lives Matter, Quaker Oats—the manufacturer of the syrup and pancake brand, Aunt Jemima, has acknowledged that the brand’s origins were “based on a racial stereotype.” The company now intends to change the name and image on its packaging, The New York Times reports.

The brand, founded in 1889, is built on images of a black female character that often been have been seen as a symbol of slavery. Aunt Jemima has gone through several redesigns; pearl earrings and a lace collar were added in 1989.

On Wednesday, Quaker Oats, which is owned by PepsiCo, said that it was taking “a hard look at our portfolio of brands” as it works “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives.”

The packaging changes, which were first reported by NBC, will begin to appear toward the end of this year, with the name change coming soon after.

“Whle work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough,” said Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

The Aunt Jemima brand was inspired by a minstrel song called “Old Aunt Jemima” and was once described by Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African-American literature at Cornell University, as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the ‘mammy,’ a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.”

Last week, the glorified depiction of slavery in “Gone With the Wind,” which included a portrayal of an affable black character named Mammy, led HBO Max to temporarily remove the film from its catalog–before bringing it back with an explanatory forward, the Times notes.

Quaker Oats said in its statement that Aunt Jemima’s marketing had “evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families,” but that it would gather more perspectives internally and from the black community to further shape the brand.

Research contact: @nytimes