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)

It Gets Better…When You're Rich and/or Famous

Note: I was so concerned about the rapture on May 21, that I failed to post last Monday. Now I realize that when they said “rapture” all they really meant was that Oprah was ending her show and Chicago’s mayor is no longer named Daley. You can totally interpret such events as the end of the world. Anyway, I finished what should have been last week’s blog and posted it here.)

True story: Although the maternal side of my family knew, I didn’t tell my biological father that I was gay until (quite literally) the day of my sister’s wedding nearly year ago, just before he was about to walk her down the aisle.  What began as an incredibly awkward moment involving me in drag a dress and makeup and weird conversation before the wedding, resulted in an embrace and my father’s loving (for him) utterance of “We deuces,” to let me know that we were still cool by the time we were taking post-nuptial photos; he even took the time to tell my girlfriend she was welcome to visit anytime.  It was a tremendous relief.  Sure, I probably should have done it much sooner, but procrastination is a tough drug to kick.  Besides, I had never hidden anything from my dad or ever talked to him about relationships, so the idea of me sitting him down and telling him that he could add dating women to the list of things he and I had in common seemed really forced and inauthentic.  Although it has always felt as if coming out was a ritual reserved for privileged white folks and Logo series, once I figured out that my dad inquiring, “So you cut your hair again, hunh?” wasn’t a euphemism for “Are you gay?”  I knew I had to say something.

Study: African American Students More Into Twitter Than Whites

Study: African American Students More Into Twitter Than Whites

Gabriel Perna, International Business Times | May 17, 2011

A recent study says Twitter is more popular for African American college students than whites due to the former’s interest in celebrity and entertainment news.

The study, from Northwestern University, focused on first-year college students attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). It found those who used Twitter were more likely to be interested in celebrity and entertainment news than not. It also said a higher percentage of black students were using Twitter in 2010 compared to white students, 37 percent to 21 percent.

The study was published online by New Media And Society in May 2011. Respondents were asked about their awareness and use of Twitter as well as their gender, race, Internet skill level, interest in topics such as international news, politics, entertainment and celebrity news.

“Students with higher Internet skills were more likely to start using Twitter and so were African Americans, who we found report more interest in celebrity and entertainment news than their peers of other races,” Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study, said in a statement.  (Read more)


'Woke Up Black' June 8th Screening

‘Woke Up Black’ June 8th Screening

Join the Black Youth Project and Woke Up Black email lists and you will be in the running to win one of 10 pairs of tickets to the June 8th screening of Woke Up Black at the Ice Theatre in Chicago!

About the film:

“Woke Up Black” followed five black youth for two years. During this time we witnessed interactions with family members, educational institutions, and the legal and judicial system. We saw the social networking that is critical to the successful development of these youth and we provided a rare opportunity to hear youth speak out on some of the important and potentially life- altering topics of the day. The film underscores the humanity that we all share with each other regardless of race or age. For some of the youth profiled, despite extraordinary circumstances, they remain hopeful.

Visit the ‘Woke Up Black’ website

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way": The Review

Lady Gaga’s second full-length album Born This Way opens with “Marry The Night,” one of the most epic pop songs you will ever hear. Clearly aimed to kickstart the album with the kind of massive statement MJ nailed with Thiller‘s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Marry The Night” opens with somber church organ and decidedly pensive vocals before erupting into a blast of synths, and never lets up. It sounds like classic Whitney Houston produced by Max Martin, and it is arguably the best song Lady Gaga has ever released. It’s that good.

Born This Way should crumble under the weight of such a masterful opening salvo (not to mention unbelievable hype), but it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.