Category Archives: activism


‘Hey Adam … Let’s Talk’: The #NotYourHollywoodIndian Q&A

By Arturo R. García

Earlier this week we covered the burgeoning campaign against Adam Sandler, Netflix, and their Ridiculous 6 project.

During our coverage, we caught up to Megan Red-Shirt Shaw, who devised the #NotYourHollywoodIndian tag in the wake of the mass walkout by a group of Native American performers, and talked about how the tag came together, how she feels about the defense of the film as “satire,” and where the campaign goes from here.

Let’s start at the beginning: describe, if you would, the moments when you first heard about the actors walking off the Sandler set. How did you go from there to getting the tag together?

Megan Red-Shirt Shaw: I was definitely upset, but also empowered by their decision to take a stand. It’s really difficult to hear that people within our communities are being dishonored – especially in ways that seem like “vintage” issues — the old Western and “Cowboys and Indians” films we’ve come to know really well. I went on Twitter to see what different voices were talking about and realized there wasn’t a hashtag consolidating the ideas. I looked through the original article by Vince Schilling and saw the quotation by Allie Young about being a “Hollywood Indian.” I knew that was what we had to get trending.
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Unhappy Gilmore: Native American Actors and Activists Protest New Adam Sandler Project

By Arturo R. García

If Adam Sandler thought his brand of “humor” would keep getting a pass in 2015, the past few days have surely disabused him of that notion.

As Indian Country Today Media Network reported, about a dozen Native American actors on his upcoming Netflix film, The Ridiculous Six, abandoned the production over the material.

“We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,” said actor Loren Anthony, a Navajo Nation member. “One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says, ‘How did you know my name?'”

ICTMN also posted video taken on the set from another performer, Goldie Tom, showing actors voicing their concerns to an unidentified producer.

“We don’t need to sell out our people,” one actor says in the footage.

“I understand completely,” the producer replies. “But we’re not gonna change ‘Beaver Breath.'”

Defamer’s Jordan Sargent posted excerpts from a version of the script, which featured characters named Sits-On-Face, Never-Wears-Bra and Smoking Fox.

“It’s no surprise, of course, that Adam Sandler has written another movie overflowing with the kinds of jokes that might feel edgy to an 11-year-old who finally understands what sex is,” Sargent observed.

The story quickly picked up traction nationally, blossoming into a rare public blunder for Netflix, which was just coming off the largely-favorable reception for Marvel’s new Daredevil series. And the budding broadcast hub chose to address the issue with a somewhat warmed-over statement.

“The movie has Ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous,” the company stated. “It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke.”

While Sandler himself has not weighed in, the chorus of Native Americans supporting the actors has only grown. Natives In America founder Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, a past Racialicious contributor, organized the #NotYourHollywoodIndian tag to rally attention to the incident.

And Netflix itself now faces the prospect of a boycott, as the #WalkOffNetflix campaign is also gaining steam. Online supporters are threatening to abandon the streaming service if it does not cancel Sandler’s project.

Meanwhile, the production staff has reportedly reached out to the actors who left the set, including 74-year-old Choctaw performer David Hill.

“I hope they will listen to us,” said Hill, a member of the American Indian Movement. “We understand this is a comedy, we understand this is humor, but we won’t tolerate disrespect. I told the director if he had talked to a native woman the way they were talked to in this movie — I said I would knock his ass out. This isn’t my first rodeo, if someone doesn’t speak up, no one will.”


The Grammys Have An Awkward Brush With Social Justice

By Arturo R. García

In the midst of a show that was downright turgid at times, there were glimpses of social relevance during Sunday night’s Grammys. You had Sam Smith openly thank an old boyfriend on national television while celebrating winning four awards. And the award’s outright hypocrisy in honoring abusive cis-males was only exposed further with remarks on domestic violence from President Barack Obama and activist Brooke Axtell:

After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me. I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help. I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship. My empathy was used against me. I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. What bound me to him was my desire to heal him. My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me. When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape. I revealed the truth to my mom and she encouraged me to seek help at a local domestic violence shelter. This conversation saved my life.

And then, of course, you had Prince. With one simple remark — “like books and Black lives, albums still matter” — His Purpleness made explicit a message that Beyoncé and Pharrell attempted to express visually. But while seeing Hands Up Don’t Shoot on the Grammy stage was worth noting, those two moments weren’t without their own problematic undertones.

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Are You Ready for #TheTalk?

MTV’s Look Different campaign is doing a full multiscreen take over for Martin Luther King Jr. Day,

According to a 2014 MTV study*, 73% of Millennials believe having more open constructive conversations about bias would help people become less prejudiced.

“Millennials believe strongly in fairness, but they can also find it difficult to talk openly about race – to be not simply ‘color blind’ but ‘color brave,’ said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. “Our audience is looking for a way to bring the national conversation on race into their homes and this campaign will give them a forum to express true color bravery.”

#TheTalk will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET/PT on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when MTV will kick off a 12-hour period in which all programming will air in black and white for the first time in the network’s history. Every commercial block will begin with personal reflections on race from luminaries including Kendrick Lamar, Common, Big Sean, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Penn Badgley, Jordin Sparks, Pete Wentz, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Cory Booker and more.

One of the ideas they referenced, “color brave,” is from Melody Hobson’s TED Talk:

Read MTV’s study on Millennials and Bias here.

Share your experiences with #TheTalk here.

(Easter Egg: I’m in the “activist” video on the site.)


Video: Jay Smooth On The Importance Of Protesting Against Police Violence

The holiday season began on a distressing note late Tuesday night, when a police officer in Berkeley, Missouri — two miles from Ferguson — shot and killed 18-year-old Antonio Martin at a local gas station.

Authorities have released security camera footage they say justifies the shooting. They say the footage shows Martin pointing a gun at the officer. But the footage is grainy and only barely shows Martin, and was immediately questioned by residents and critics. Not only was there a demonstration within hours of Martin’s death, but protesters took to the city’s streets and a nearby interstate the following evening.

Martin’s death came not long after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged demonstrators in his city to postpone further actions in the wake of the fatal shootings of two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu, Rafael Ramos. Their attacker, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, ambushed the two officers in their patrol car after coming to the city from Baltimore, where he shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson.

As Jay Smooth explains in this episode of The Illipsis for Fusion, while there are police doing good work in their communities, the choice by people representing them to adopt “wartime” rhetoric has only exacerbated tensions between them and the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

“People are not angry at police because of these protests,” he says. “People have been angry at the police for decades because the system is broken, and these protests represent people trying, once and for all, to change that system so they don’t have to be so angry all the time.”


WATCH: Melissa Harris-Perry And Guests On Public Perceptions Of Michael Brown and Eric garner

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis: [Black pathology] has two causes: one is institutionalized racism, and we just have to admit that America was built on a fault line called race, and that thing is cracking wide open. So, all of these are symptoms of that. Some of them are that we internalize the narrative. And I think the other thing, you were pointing to a little while ago, is that somehow it makes us feel like we have more power, if it’s ‘our stuff’ — we’ve got more power to examine it, to fix it. But I think the bottom line is, this isn’t at all about Black pathology; it is about racism in America, which is in fact, pathological.


Watch: Race + Police Discussion Featuring Eric Garner’s children, Latoya Peterson, and Franchesca Ramsey

By Arturo R. García

Racialicious owner Latoya Peterson took part in a panel discussion moderated by Yahoo News host Katie Couric on Thursday regarding not only the death of Eric Garner, but the distrust characterizing the relationship between the New York Police Department and residents.

The discussion began with Couric interviewing Erica Garner and Eric Garner Jr., Garner’s children.

“Why didn’t the EMS help him if their job is to help people?” Erica Garner asked at one point. “I feel they treated him like an animal.”

Peterson and blogger Franchesca Ramsey then joined Couric to discuss how the case has stimulated conversation online.

“It’s just raw emotion, what’s happening,” Peterson said. “It’s not just unfortunately Eric Garner’s situation. It’s also in the aggregate, looking at everything that’s happened, with the summer, every 28 hours and all these campaigns, it’s really leading people to organize on social media and to be able to rise up and say, ‘We do not want to accept this any longer. This isn’t gonna be our world, and it shouldn’t be our world.'”

The discussion continued with a panel featuring comedian W. Kamau Bell, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and journalist Dion Rabouin, a talk that featured several clashes between Kelly and Bell, who admitted he did not feel safe with Kelly in the room.

“I’ve been taught to treat cops like pitbulls,” Bell says at one point.

“Who taught you that?” Kelly responds.

“The Black community,” Bell shoots back. “Would you like their names and numbers?”

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#ThisStopsToday: Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision Adds More Fuel To Protests Nationwide

A day after a grand jury decided not to indict a New York City police officer in connection with the death of Eric Garner, protests calling for justice in his name — alongside that of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Tanisha Anderson and others — have been scheduled in cities around this country beginning on Thursday.

We’ve listed some of them below, per information from the Ferguson National Response Network. While the #ICantBreathe tag was used extensively for Wednesday night’s protests in New York City, organizers are using the tags #ThisStopsToday and #JusticeForEricGarner for this weekend’s actions. If you know of any in your area, you are encouraged to list it in the comments.

All Times Local

  • Detroit: Campus Maritius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., 12:03 p.m.
  • Durham: Duke University Chapel Lawn, 401 Chapel Dr., 1:45 p.m.
  • Washington, D.C.: Justice Department building, 950 Pennsylvania, Ave. NW, 4 p.m.
  • Houston: Houston Police Department, 1200 Travis St., 4:30 p.m.
  • Note: A separate action in Houston is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park, on Houston between Forsyth and Christie.
  • Baltimore: McKeldin Square, intersection of Light St. and Pratt, 5 p.m.
  • Atlanta: Downtown Underground, 50 Upper Alabama St., 5:30 p.m.
  • Indianapolis: 1 Monument Circle, 5:30 p.m.
  • New York City: Foley Square, 111 Worth St., 5:30 p.m.
  • Boston: Boston Common, Park St. entrance, across from the Lowes movie theatre, 7 p.m.
  • Dallas: Dallas Police Department, 1400 S. Lamar St., 7:30 p.m.

The full listing can be found at the Ferguson National Response Network website.