links for 2010-03-01

  • Across the country, the anti-abortion movement, long viewed as almost exclusively white and Republican, is turning its attention to African-Americans and encouraging black abortion opponents across the country to become more active.
  • Three years. That's how long it took to get a street here renamed after [Cesar Chavez] the labor leader and human rights activist. The supporters never thought it would take that long…"This has been horrible," said Marta Guembes, co-chairwoman of the Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard Committee. Take the effort to Tijuana or Mexico City, said others. Renaming the street would "open up the border," some predicted. Such sentiments were the minority, but the words cut deep. "It turned ugly," said Sonny Montes, a member of the committee…Said Adams: "Portland is a progressive city, but not, clearly, without its vulnerabilities around issues of race and racism and phobias and discrimination and stereotyping."…Portland is one of the top five whitest metro areas in the country, according to a 2007 Census Bureau survey. With 78% of its 2.17 million metro area population being white, it's even whiter than Salt Lake City.
  • It took years for work crews to tunnel through the edges of the 2,031-foot peak that stands between Malibu and Agoura. It took a century for authorities to dig their way out from under the shame that came with the mountain, however.

    But another work crew will soon erect a bronze plaque that changes the name of "Negrohead Mountain" to "Ballard Mountain" in honor of a black man who was a pioneering homesteader in the Santa Monica Mountains. John Ballard was a former slave who ran a delivery service and was a co-founder of Los Angeles' first African Methodist Episcopal Church, but the city's rising property values and its class structure forced him to move his family 50 miles out into the mountains in the 1880s.

  • On a campus already facing racial tensions, UC San Diego police said Friday that they were investigating the discovery of a noose hanging from a library bookcase and questioning a student who may be responsible. The probe will look into whether the noose — which was seen by some as a symbol of lynching meant to intimidate African Americans on the campus — was connected to recent racially charged incidents and subsequent protests at UCSD.
  • …during construction of a General Services Administration office building in Lower Manhattan, graves were discovered 24 feet below ground, and when those remains led to the discovery of hundreds of other bodies in the same area, and when it was determined that these were black New Yorkers interred in what a 1755 map calls the “Negros Burial Ground,” the earth seemed to shake from more than just machinery…That is a reason why Saturday’s opening of the African Burial Ground Visitor Center, near where these remains were reinterred, is so important. Among the scars left by the heritage of slavery, one of the greatest is an absence: where are the memorials, cemeteries, architectural structures or sturdy sanctuaries that typically provide the ground for a people’s memory?
  • Identify yourself as being of ''Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin'' on the 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire, and you will get to be more specific about your ancestry, such as Mexican-American, Cuban or Puerto Rican. But check the box for ''black, African-American or Negro'' and there will be no place to show whether you trace your identity to the African continent, a Caribbean island or a pre-Civil War plantation. Some Caribbean-American leaders are urging their communities to write their nationalities on the line under ''some other race'' on the forms arriving in mailboxes next month, along with checking the racial categories they feel identify them best. It's another step in the evolution of the Census, which has moved well beyond general categories like ''black'' and ''white'' to allow people to identify themselves as multi-racial, and, in some cases, by national origin.
  • A State Supreme Court jury in Brooklyn lost little time exonerating three police officers of charges that they had brutalized a man named Michael Mineo in a subway station and then covered it up….Al Sharpton, who by no coincidence is a prominent supporter of Mr. Mineo, demands federal action almost by rote whenever a judge or jury doesn’t convict a police officer…[But] whether led by a Democrat or a Republican, the Justice Department turned a deaf ear to demands that it look into the police killings of Amadou Diallo, Patrick M. Dorismond, Police Officer Omar J. Edwards and Sean Bell. (That decision was announced last week.)