ACLU Sues City of Milwaukee for Racially Biased Stop-and-Frisk Policy

(image via colorlines.com; Courtesy of ACLU of Wisconsin, via Twitter @ACLUofWisconsin)

article by Kenrya Rankin via colorlines.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin just filed a law suit against the city of Milwaukee alleging that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) routinely and purposely stops and frisks Black and Latinx people with no cause.

Collins v. City of Milwaukee was filed in the Milwaukee Division of the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. It names six Black and Latinx residents who were stopped by police without reasonable suspicion as the plaintiffs. But as a class action suit, it seeks redress for every person who has been, or will be, stopped by the MPD since January 7, 2008, plus a subclass that includes all Black and Latinx members of that class.

The suit names the city, Chief of Police Edward Flynn and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission as defendants. Filed yesterday (February 22), the suit alleges that at Flynn’s direction, the department violates the protections that should be afforded citizens of color via the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And the ACLU says those violations are increasing: the number of traffic and pedestrian stops tripled in the years after Flynn became the top cop, jumping from 66,657 in 2007 to 196,434 in 2015.

To read more, go to: ACLU Sues City of Milwaukee for Racist Stop and Frisk Policy | Colorlines

Black Female Artists Tackle The Dangerous Stereotypes That Have Never Defined Them

Mildred Howard, “I’ve Been a Witness to this Game IX,” color monoprint/digital on found paper with collage, 2016.

article by Priscilla Frank via huffingtonpost.com

The pop culture landscape is littered with lazy images of black women ― the nurturer, the hussy, the angry bitch. Hovering around the all-encompassing myth of the “strong black woman,” those paper-thin characterizations fail to represent real women in all their complexity and vulnerability.

Despite the monolithic representations that appear so often in TV series, advertisements, films and the imaginations of those who digest them, artists have long worked to provide images that speak to the depth and sweet fallibility of all human beings ― black women included.

An exhibition at the Alexandria Museum of Art, titled “Beyond Mammy, Jezebel, & Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women,” deconstructs the limiting categorizations mainstream culture allows black women. The artists on view reveal the shoddy nature of the stereotypes in favor of challenging, poetic and thorough visualizations of black culture ― the myth, the archetype, the self-portrait and beyond.

Characterizations commonly ascribed to black women in America are both historical and insidious. The Mammy ― a big-bosomed, jolly mother figure ― was written fictitiously into history to make slavery appear more humane. Her illusory existence suggested that there could, in fact, be such a thing as a happy slave. Today, the Mammy is often framed as a sexless, selfless nurturer.

Then there’s the Jezebel ― an overly sexualized, promiscuous black woman ― with a similarly atrocious origin story: her image was used to justify the sexual violence systematically inflicted upon black women in the antebellum South. Its influence persists to this day, making it more difficult for rape allegations by black women to be taken seriously.

And finally, the show addresses the image of Sapphire, named for the one-dimensional character on the radio and TV show “Amos ‘n’ Andy” ― an angry black woman. This cultural generalization, too, is a corollary of slavery and oppression. It calls back to a time when history overlooked the atrocities committed against black families and suggests instead that black women are inherently hostile, a foil to the delicate femininity of white women.
Continue reading

R.I.P. Clyde Stubblefield, 73, James Brown’s Legendary ‘Funky Drummer’ 

Clyde Stubblefield (photo via nytimes.com)

article by  via nytimes.com

It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”

It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014— its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, from the 1980s to the present day. It made Mr. Stubblefield, who died on Saturday in Madison, Wis., at 73, perhaps the most sampled drummer in history.

The cause was kidney failure, said his manager, Kathie Williams.

Mr. Stubblefield was born on April 18, 1943, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he was drawn to the rhythms of local industrial sounds, from factories to trains. “There was a factory there that puffed out air — pop-BOOM, pop-BOOM — hit the mountains and came back as an echo,” he told Isthmus in 2015. “And train tracks — click-clack, click-clack. I listened to all that for six years, playing my drums against it.”

By his late teenage years, he was already playing drums professionally, and he moved to Macon, Ga., after playing with Otis Redding, who hailed from there. There, he performed with local soul acts, and was introduced to Brown by a club owner. Soon, he was flying to join Brown on the road, and became a permanent band member.

He performed with him on and off for about six years, one of two key drummers — the other was John Starks, who was also known as Jabo — playing on the essential James Brown albums of the civil rights era: “Cold Sweat,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “It’s a Mother,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Sex Machine.” He performed at some of Brown’s most important concerts, including at the Boston Garden after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and for United States service members in Vietnam.

His sharp funk provided the anchor on anthems like “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “I Got The Feelin’.” Always, his playing was complex but collected — his flourishes between beats were as essential as the beat itself. Brown demanded a lot of his band, and Mr. Stubblefield, with playing that had punch, nimbleness and wet texture, never appeared to be breaking a sweat.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/arts/music/clyde-stubblefield-dead.htmlrref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

Columbia University Professor Alondra Nelson to Be Next President of the Social Science Research Council

Columbia professor Alondra Nelson (photo via news.columbia.edu)

Columbia University professor Alondra Nelson (photo via news.columbia.edu)

article via jbhe.com

Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology and dean of social science at Columbia University in New York City, will be the next president of the Social Science Research Council. Founded in 1923, the Social Science Research Council is an independent, international, nonprofit organization which supports research and development of social scientists. Professor Nelson will serve a five-year term as president of the organization, beginning September 1.

Professor Nelson joined the faculty at Columbia University in 2009 after teaching at Yale University. She is the author of the award-winning book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and a co-editor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (Rutgers University Press, 2012) and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (New York University Press, 2001). Her most recent book is The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome (Beacon Press, 2016).

Professor Nelson is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of California at San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a doctoral degree in American studies from New York University.

26 Year-Old GM Engineer Mukhtar Onifade Starts Fashion Line Celebrating African Culture (VIDEO)

Detroit-based engineer and fashion designer Muktar Onifade (photo via atlantablackstar.com)

article by Ricky Riley via atlantablackstar.com

Detroit-based engineer Muktar Onifade is using his skills working as an engineer to create a fashion line that celebrates West African culture.

The 26-year-old native Nigerian and General Motors calibration specialist said he was inspired to launch his line, VIZUVLGVDS (Visual Gods), after going to a fashion show featuring beautiful African styles. “To be Black now, you have to be fearless really,” Onifade says in a Thursday, Feb. 9 NBC Black profile. “There has to be this certain level of self-belief in what you can accomplish.”

Onifade saw an opportunity to make a line that could be worn anywhere and any time outside of special occasions and events. To put his plan into action, he took his first paycheck from working at GM and brought a sewing machine.

Since 2015, his VIZUVLGVDS line has featured two collections that showcase his meticulous engineering talents and his African cultural heritage.

To read more, go to: Engineer Uses First Paycheck to Start Fashion Line Celebrating African Culture – Atlanta Black Star

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Gift Ideas For Friends, Family or Yourself

article bvia madamenoire.com

Who says Black History Month isn’t a celebration? Check out 10 super chic items for you (or others) that celebrate blackness.

To see more options and to click through to buy, go to: I’m Black Y’all: 10 Black History Month Gifts For Yourself

U.S. Army Finally Lifts Ban on Dreadlocks, Black Service Members Rejoice

(photo via atlantablackstar.com)

article by Tanasia Kenney via atlantablackstar.com

After years of being forced to chose between their hair and staying within regulation, African-American servicewomen in the United States Army are praising revised grooming policies that’ll allow them to don dreadlocks. The Army announced plans to lift the ban on locs early last month in a directive that largely focused on grooming policy changes that pertained to religious accommodations, according to The New York Times.

Buried in the memo was text stating that female service members would now be permitted to wear “dreadlocks/locs,” as long as the strands are less than 1/8 inch wide, the scalp grid is uniformed and neat, and, when gathered, all the hair fits into the authorized bun size of 3 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches deep, as stated under Army Regulation 670-1.

The change was happily welcomed by African-American servicewomen, who, in April 2014, were outraged after the Army enacted policies that explicitly prohibited locs, twists, braids and other protective hairstyles common in the African-American community. Many argued that the regulations were confusing, discriminatory and left Black servicewomen with little hairstyle options while in uniform.

To read more, go to: U.S. Army Finally Lifts Ban on Dreadlocks, Black Service Members Rejoice – Atlanta Black Star