Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, And The Normalization of Slave Rape Narratives

I am not the same person now as I was when I was 14—and thank God for that. I was remarkably naive and unbearably insecure, and stuck in an environment that did nothing but exacerbate those complex internal struggles that are so typical of adolescence.

So imagine my outrage upon being continuously confronted with articles that insist on describing the affairs between Thomas Jefferson and a fourteen year-old enslaved Sally Hemings (simultaneously his slave and wife’s half-sister) as a ‘relationship.’ I cannot fathom, at fourteen, being denied the liberty to reject the sexual advances of a 44 year-old man (and not just any man, but a man who would become the President of the United States) only to have historians and writers skip over the imbalanced power dynamics and categorize it as a ‘relationship.’

Base To Dems: Get With It Or Get Lost

What do you call a party that refuses to represent the interests of its base in an increasingly critical time in U.S. politics?

Soon to be over.

Since the beginning of this decade, the Democratic Party has continuously grown more and more out of touch with their base. We saw it in the 2014 midterms, when the decision to swing to the center and distance themselves from Obama resulted in sound defeat in Congressional races. We saw it in the heavily contested Democratic primary, as more and more traditionally left-leaning people began to critique, if not outright reject, the political establishment.

‘We Need To Be Rethinking Our Response To This’: An Interview with dream hampton

Days after clinching the U.S. presidency in November, Donald Trump appointed Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his pick for Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice. From stating he was once “okay with the Ku Klux Klan” until he learned they smoked marijuana, to prosecuting Black activists in the decades following the fall of Jim Crow for registering people to vote, Sessions’ past, like Trump’s, is filled with controversial, biased and racially-charged rhetoric and action.

Civil rights groups around the country have begun mobilizing against his confirmation and urging senators to reject him. I spoke with longtime filmmaker and activist dream hampton about her efforts, in tandem with the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance, to block Sessions’ confirmation as U.S. Attorney General.

‘Hidden Figures’ Represents Black Women’s Continued Quest For Dignity and Recognition

I remember the first time I had my intelligence questioned by a peer like it was yesterday; I had just won the regional spelling bee when a classmate, a non-Black person of color, started a rumor that my accomplishments were simply a result of me smoking marijuana.

I was 14, and had never smoked a day in my life.

10 Reasons Why We Are Glad To See 2016 Go

Only one more day is left on the 2016 calendar, and it seems as though the world couldn’t be happier about it. From natural disasters to the election of Donald Trump to an overwhelming deluge of celebrity deaths, the past year has been quite the newsmaker with an abundance of poignant lows and only a smattering of profound highs (which is partially why it was so difficult to select only ten events to discuss.)

Leslie Mac’s Facebook Ban Is The Latest Development In Racially Biased Censorship

Yesterday morning, activist, creator and co-founder of Safety Pin Box Leslie Mac found her Facebook account temporarily suspended after writing the following post:

The post appears to be related to the Adam Saleh/Delta Airlines controversy. Mac took to Twitter to express her frustration, explaining to her followers that the post was likely flagged after actor Matt McGorry shared it on his profile–which apparently offended many of his white followers.

Her tweets were widely shared—over 1600 retweets—and shortly after, Facebook issued this apology:

Image via Twitter

It seems like a simple mistake, however this seems to be a common occurrence for activists who share their thoughts on Facebook, particularly those of color.

In September, New York Daily News writer Shaun King was blocked from accessing his account after posting a screenshot of a racist email sent to him. Facebook called that a ‘mistake’ too. Earlier in the year, Facebook deactivated Korryn Gaines’ profile upon request from the Baltimore Police Department—right before they shot and killed her.

All the while, posts containing racist language (and some threats) are routinely ignored by Facebook’s seemingly overzealous ‘community standards’ monitor. It would be quick and easy to place this blame solely on Zuckerberg et al (although they should start taking responsibility.)

However, all of these incidents are reflective of a much bigger problem: a cultural norm in which speech censorship targets people of color while protecting the speech that antagonizes them. Two decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled speech laws aimed at banning racial antagonism, like, for example burning crosses, unconstitutional in the landmark case R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul.

And who can forget COINTELPRO, a covert program run by the FBI that tracked Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., and Black Panther Party members like Huey Newton?

Even now, more and more Black Americans are finding themselves behind bars after being charged with “contempt of cop”—Ferguson PD’s way of punishing those who talk back to them during traffic stops, or record their encounters with smartphones.

American society only tolerates speech expressed by people of color so long as it does not upset the status quo, which is ironic, since the whole notion behind the passing of the First Amendment revolves around was to ensure that individuals who wanted to speak out against injustices could do so without fear of government persecution.
What happened to the likes of Mac, King and Gaines is terribly frustrating, but it is as American as apple pie, and highly likely to continue occurring.

The Difference Between Casey Affleck and Nate Parker? Community Accountability.

Award season is officially underway for the arts, and some of our favorite films, television shows, and actors and actresses are finally getting the recognition they deserve. But one film is noticeably missing.

Though initially predicted to be both a box office hit and a strong contender for awards, Nate Parker’s “Birth Of A Nation” fell flat in both areas, most likely because of the college rape scandal Parker was embroiled in as well as his unrepentant attitude concerning the case. However, Casey Affleck (younger brother of Ben Affleck) has already nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the film “Manchester By The Sea,” despite multiple sexual harrasment allegations.

Why America Needs Justice-Oriented Civic Education Now More Than Ever

The United Negro Improvement Association. The Congress of Racial Equity. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The National Association of Colored Women. The National Association For the Advancement of Colored People. The Black Panther Party.

The list of civic organizations that helped shape the course of racial justice in the 20th century seems almost endless.

‘Thankstaking,’ The DAPL And Our Centuries-Long Disregard For Native Lives

For those of us who consider ourselves believers in social justice, reckoning with the Thanksgiving holiday can easily become hairy.

On the one hand, it is a rare opportunity for families, particularly those that are working class, to come together, eat delicious food (depending on who makes it) and strengthen their bonds. And yet, as law enforcement officers pepper spray Native activists at Standing Rock, set dogs on them and hose them down in frigid temperatures, the guilt behind grabbing a Turkey leg and proclaiming ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ has, for some of us, become much more difficult to ignore.

The Real Winner Of The Presidential Election? Chief Justice John Roberts

As the results from Tuesday’s presidential election rolled in state by state, half of the country responded with shock and disbelief. Throughout social media, post after post inquired how a Ku Klu Klan-endorsed candidate with no previous political experience, numerous accusations of sexual assault and multiple lawsuits could so quickly ascend to the highest office in the land.