Do You Live in a Food Desert? Search Your Area

Do You Live in a Food Desert? Search Your Area
Asraa Mustufa, Colorlines | May 24, 2011

The USDA introduced a mapping tool this month that tracks food deserts across the country, and includes demographic information about those living in areas without access to healthy and affordable food.

The Food Desert Locator highlights areas that are low-income and where a substantial portion of residents (at least 500 people and/or a third of the population) have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. To qualify as a low access community, residents in urban settings must reside more than one mile away from a supermarket or grocery story that contains all major food departments and makes at least $2 million in sales, or 10 miles away from one in rural settings.

Users can search the map by address, county, or zip code. It can be viewed with a topographic background where city locations, county and state boundaries are visible, or with a satellite background to see an aerial view of physical locations like housing developments, roads, malls, lakes, or rivers. Furthermore, one can view statistics on the people in each food desert – information like the number and percentage of low income residents, number and percentage of those with low access, amounts of children and senior citizens with low access, and the amount of low access housing units that do not have a vehicle.

The population characteristics come from 2000 Census data, and the map was developed by the Economic Research Service, the USDA’s economic research department. ERS used the definition of “food desert” devised by the Health Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a partnership between the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, and the USDA that emerged as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. This definition will be used in determining eligibility for HFFI funds to go towards expanding the availability of nutritious food and developing retail sites in food deserts. The Food Desert Locator was also designed to help policy makers, community planners, researchers, and developers to identify neighborhoods with low access to healthy and affordable food.  (Read more)


For the Colored Transgender Person Who Has Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Backfires


Hi, My name is Jonathan, and I use masculine gender pronouns like “he” or “him” to express my identity.

I have far too often taken for granted how easy it is and how privileged I am to be able freely express my gender without constant repression or ridicule. I think privilege has to be one of the most complicated themes of my life. I can be marginalized one day on the basis of my race and sexuality and on that very same day I can receive benefits on the basis of being a man and my gender expression. I am both routinely and simultaneously forced to recognize my privilege while coming to terms with my lack of privilege.

We have been of no assistance.

We, us who benefit from birthrights and silver spoons.

We have been loved “assiduously”

for centuries and still today

we reap the benefits of stolen lands

that were snatched from the

weathered hands that it belonged to,

to begin with.

On Its 57th Anniversary, Three Lessons From Brown v. Board of Education

On Its 57th Anniversary, Three Lessons From Brown v. Board of Education

Eva Paterson, Huffington Post | May 23, 2011

At the Equal Justice Society, we are working to reclaim the full protections of the 14th Amendment and help those who experience discrimination get their day in court. We know we have a tough and long road ahead in tackling our biggest challenge, namely overturning the “intent doctrine” as established in Washington v. Davis.

Yet, as we prepare for the next step in this critical work, we are glad to have the shining example that is Brown v. Board of Education — one of the most important decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court — illuminating the way forward.

The Brown case, which ended the tyranny of “separate but equal” policies in America, was the result of a decades-long, multi-pronged, and disciplined strategy. Known as the “Houston Plan,” the strategy first took shape at Howard University of Law School in the early 1930s, and combined impact litigation, innovative use of social science, and collaboration with civil rights organizations across the political spectrum.  (Read more)

In Defense Of The Based God: Why Lil' B Is A Rebel With A Cause

“Being based means [being] positive, doing what you want to do, not caring and just being yourself.”

There isn’t anyone in the music industry who is more enigmatic than Brandon McCartney aka Lil’ B. His non-traditional rapping style coupled with his strict adherence to the “based” lifestyle has inspired thousands and left many “hip-hop heads” perplexed. One of the main reasons I respect Lil’ B is because he dares to be different. He doesn’t allow the narrow confines of hip-hop to restrict his creativity or censor his thoughts, no matter how outlandish they may be. More importantly, I believe the Based God is using controversy to spread positivity.

Priceless Gown Project Sends Girls to Prom in Dream Dresses

NBC Nightly News | May 20, 2011

In Baltimore, Md., The Priceless Gown Project is making Prom dreams a reality.  The project boutique gave away free dresses to over 500 young ladies who otherwise may not have been able to finance their dream gown. A unique shopping experience, the ladies are paired with a personal shopper and able to browse through over 3,000 donated dresses.


Sean Bell Community Center Opens in New York

Sean Bell Community Center Opens in New York
Asraa Mustufa, Colorlines | May 23, 2011

Five years after Sean Bell was killed in a hail of police gunfire, a community center named in his honor opened Friday in the Jamaica, Queens neighborhood where he grew up.

The Sean Elijah Bell Community Center plans to offer tutoring and mentoring programs for kids, and GED and job training programs for adults starting next month. The center was funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant and hopes to become an after-school haven for local youth, aiming to serve between 2,000 and 5,000 people a year.

“Someone was taken away from us and we want to try to save some other people,” Bell’s father William Bell told The New York Daily News. “There’s so many things that could be done in our neighborhood.”  (Read more)



Supreme Court upholds order for California to release 46,000 inmates

Supreme Court upholds order for California to release 46,000 inmates

James Oliphant, Los Angeles Times | May 23, 2011

Reporting from Washington — The Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, has an upheld an injunction by a three-judge panel ordering California to release about 46,000 inmates — more than one-fourth the state prison population — over the next two years to relieve overcrowding.

The decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and backed by the court’s liberal bloc. At issue was whether federal judges had the power to order the release of state prisoners as a necessary means of curing a constitutional violation.

A special panel of three judges ruled in 2009 that inmates in the state’s 33 prisons were being denied adequate medical care as required by the Constitution. Because overcrowding was the “primary cause,” they ordered the state to cap its prison population at 137% of capacity.

The court said the state’s prisons had “short of minimum constitutional requirements” and “needless suffering and death” have resulted.  (Read more)