Category Archives: community

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Harlem Residents: We Asked City for Help, We Got a Raid Instead

By Guest Contributor Daryl Khan, cross-posted from Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Members of the NYPD raid the Manhattanville Houses and the Grant Houses in West Harlem early on the morning of June 4, 2014. A total of 40 suspects were arrested as part of a massive 145-count indictment of 103 people in a range of crimes, including murder, 19 shootings, gang assaults, beatings and conspiracy. Police apprehend a suspect outside the Grant Houses. All images by Robert Stolarik.

NEW YORK — Whenever LaQuint Singleton found himself about to get into a fight out in the courtyards or in the small playground in front of his building at the General Ulysses S. Grant Houses, he would run and find his mom, Venus. He’d scamper up the stairs and go up to her looking for protection. Back then, Singleton was a good student who regularly attended school and attended church service every Sunday. One day, in an attempt to impress the older teenagers and men, he carried a gun to give to another resident. He was arrested, and spent six months in Rikers Island waiting for his case to wend its way through the criminal justice system — and then another year after he was sentenced.

“They sent him to the Island, and he came back a monster,” Venus Singleton said, sobbing on the steps of an apartment building on Old Broadway, referred to as the DMZ by people on both sides of the blood feud between the Grant and Manhattanville Houses. “That boy they sent back is not the same boy I sent them. The department of corrections turned my son into a monster. I love my monster, but that’s what he is. That’s what the Island did for me.”

Now, Singleton said, more monsters are about to be made.
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Memorial Day: Remembering Soldiers of Color [The Throwback]

In honor of the U.S. celebrating Memorial Day today, we are reprinting this 2012 piece featuring veterans from many of our communities

We’ll begin with a video that was shown here in San Diego earlier this year, at a celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded two years ago to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and and U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The unit, composed mostly of Japanese-Americans, would see heavy action during World War II in Europe, and would go on to produce 21 Medal of Honor recipients. This unit’s exploits were chronicled in fictional form in the film Only The Brave, the trailer of which can be seen here.

[Note: One video under the cut auto-plays, but is SFW.]
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Quoted: Ta-Nehisi Coates on The History of Segregation in Chicago

Protest against discriminatory housing practices in Cicero, Illinois, 1966. Image via The Atlantic

In 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants, while permissible, were not enforceable by judicial action, Chicago had other weapons at the ready. The Illinois state legislature had already given Chicago’s city council the right to approve—and thus to veto—any public housing in the city’s wards. This came in handy in 1949, when a new federal housing act sent millions of tax dollars into Chicago and other cities around the country. Beginning in 1950, site selection for public housing proceeded entirely on the grounds of segregation. By the 1960s, the city had created with its vast housing projects what the historian Arnold R. Hirsch calls a “second ghetto,” one larger than the old Black Belt but just as impermeable. More than 98 percent of all the family public-housing units built in Chicago between 1950 and the mid‑1960s were built in all-black neighborhoods.

Governmental embrace of segregation was driven by the virulent racism of Chicago’s white citizens. White neighborhoods vulnerable to black encroachment formed block associations for the sole purpose of enforcing segregation. They lobbied fellow whites not to sell. They lobbied those blacks who did manage to buy to sell back. In 1949, a group of Englewood Catholics formed block associations intended to “keep up the neighborhood.” Translation: keep black people out. And when civic engagement was not enough, when government failed, when private banks could no longer hold the line, Chicago turned to an old tool in the American repertoire—racial violence. “The pattern of terrorism is easily discernible,” concluded a Chicago civic group in the 1940s. “It is at the seams of the black ghetto in all directions.” On July 1 and 2 of 1946, a mob of thousands assembled in Chicago’s Park Manor neighborhood, hoping to eject a black doctor who’d recently moved in. The mob pelted the house with rocks and set the garage on fire. The doctor moved away.

In 1947, after a few black veterans moved into the Fernwood section of Chicago, three nights of rioting broke out; gangs of whites yanked blacks off streetcars and beat them. Two years later, when a union meeting attended by blacks in Englewood triggered rumors that a home was being “sold to n*ggers,” blacks (and whites thought to be sympathetic to them) were beaten in the streets. In 1951, thousands of whites in Cicero, 20 minutes or so west of downtown Chicago, attacked an apartment building that housed a single black family, throwing bricks and firebombs through the windows and setting the apartment on fire. A Cook County grand jury declined to charge the rioters—and instead indicted the family’s NAACP attorney, the apartment’s white owner, and the owner’s attorney and rental agent, charging them with conspiring to lower property values. Two years after that, whites picketed and planted explosives in South Deering, about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, to force blacks out.

– From “The Case For Reparations,” in The Atlantic

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Yes, I’m a Black Jew. Why Do People Always Want to Talk to Me About It?

By Guest Contributor Sarah Gladstone, cross-posted from Ravishly

Photos courtesy of the author.

Twix, zebra, reverse Michael Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, mulatto, milano, Oreo, Uh-Oh Oreo, blewish, I’ve heard them all. People always want to talk to me about being black. Or Jewish. Or black and Jewish. Or when they hear me talk about my racial identity, they want to share their own racial experiences. I know that in a lot of ways I am a cultural and ethnic enigma. But in all honesty, it can get old. Like, real old, real fast.

Friends, I realize that I can be a good resource and an outlet, but sometimes, I’m just trying to get my drink on — not discuss the mulled-over complications of racial perplexities.
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Video: Racebending presents ‘Diverse Means for Diverse Worlds’ at C2E2

By Arturo R. García

Our colleagues at Racebending passed along this video of their panel from the recent C2E2 event in Chicago, “Diverse Means for Diverse Worlds,” which discusses how creators make the realms in their work hew closer to the diversity we encounter in everyday life.

Moderated by Gabrial Canada, the panel includes:

(Batgirl, Megalopolis, The Movement, Red Sonja)

A few excerpts from the panel:

Onli on fans’ power as consumers:

“You guys have all the power to go to any vendor and say, ‘Um, how come this graphic novel collection on the shelf is not as diverse as what I see when I go to iTunes and look at music? When you go to iTunes, there’s more going on than The Beatles. So what are we talking about? Spider-Man kind of hit when the Beatles did. Superman hit when, who, Benny Goodman hit? Batman hit when Public Enemy No. 1 was James Cagney. So, their music isn’t stuck like that, right?

Liu on battling artistic misconceptions regarding characters:

I’ve actually specifically had to request people of color in the books, like in the script. Because if I don’t, the assumption is that everyone’s gonna be white. And so I’ll say, ‘No, this character is biracial, she’s Black.’ And I’ll get the colors back and she’ll be white. And I’ll be like, ‘She’s black.’ And they’ll be like, ‘Okay.’ And then I’ll get colors back and she’ll look tan. I’ll be like, ‘You know what, we’re having this conversation a third time.’ It’s really weird, this resistance. There’s an incredible resistance — not sometimes, all the time to diversify and bring in people of color into these books.

Simone on inclusive “casting” in her work:

People talk all the time about, ‘Why do you have to put all these characters in your comics that are gay or that are, you know, a different race, just let it happen organically. Well, the truth is, we didn’t get to where we were with so many straight white characters organically. Decisions were made for decades that that’s how it was gonna be. So, we can’t wait around for an organic thing to happen, even if there is such a thing. It takes people making decisions, doing the work, getting the work out there, and above all, people supporting those works.”

Overall, a solid discussion and a good watch and/or listen for you if you’ve got just under an hour to spare today.

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The NFL & The Washington Redskins – A Piece for Pit River

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Image by Zennie Abraham via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Guest Contributor Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

On the first morning of this year’s NFL Draft, I turned on the television to see an interview with the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell. Sitting in a suit and smiling, Goodell was asked about his favorite team growing up. After saying he had initially been a Baltimore Colts fan, he shared that he eventually became a huge Washington Redskins fan. A few voices from the studio audience let out a whoop in solidarity. I stood with my arms crossed watching the remainder of the interview, wishing like many young Native people that I could sit down and have a conversation with the commissioner of the NFL.

Conversations about the Redskins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves have successfully gained a lot of attention over the past year, with movements across the country arising including the “De-Chief” movement and Change the Mascot. House Democrats, and the league’s own Richard Sherman have come out in support of why the name change is important, especially with Donald Sterling’s public downfall in the NBA.

Beyond a deeper understanding of what the term “Redskin” means to Native people, there’s the issue of where that term is continuing to rise to the surface. What the adults on the wrong side of the conversation seem to forget, is who images of screaming painted Redskins fans or Eagles fans holding “Indian heads” on stakes truly impact the most – Native kids across the country who are just beginning to form their own identities as young, Indigenous members of society.

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The Uneasy Transition from Juvenile Hall to Life on the Outside

By Guest Contributor Alton Pitre, cross posted from Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Exhilaration jolted through my body when I stepped back onto the grounds of Central Juvenile Hall for the first time since my release. I finally knew what it felt like to come back as a free man and not as a detained juvenile. I cherished how different it felt. Now, I was wearing my own clothes and not the dull gray uniform of the hall. My arms dangled freely as I walked without anyone telling me to walk in a line with my hands behind my back. I even had a chance to chat with some of the juvenile hall’s probation officers, who were surprised to see me. The last time they had I was sitting in my cell.

My first day of freedom after 18 long months of captivity was Oct. 8, 2010. That was when reality quickly settled in. I was sitting at a table with my father and a few friends at a Denny’s restaurant, eating some bacon. My chest was poked out and my shoulders were buffed up. Noticing this, one of my friends jokingly said “Al, you out. You can relax and quit acting hard now.” I found that really funny because I was not trying to look tough. After being in jail for so long I had picked up the habit of trying to look like a thug while sitting at the dinner table. I was institutionalized. I did not even remember the proper way to use a knife and fork to cut my pancakes.
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In support of The #IAmComics Campaign

By Arturo R. García

The author’s submission to #IAmComics

If you’ll allow for a moment of first-person writing today, I’m happy and proud to announce that, in addition to being part of the team here at The R, I was asked to be part of We Are Comics, a new campaign created by longtime comics pro editor Rachel Edidin over the weekend to spotlight the fact that comics fandom extends far, far beyond the cis-het white male realm often attached to it.

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