Feb 28th

The problem of modern breast-fed racism

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Gustavo Balderas @ The Advocate-Online.net

To a young mind any word spoken by blood can never be wrong: “Si mi madre lo dejo, entonces es la verdad.” In other words: if Mother said it, it’s true.

“If white men work eight hours, we work twelve.”

“You are not Mexican, but an American of Mexican descent.”

Strong mottos to live by. Affirmations telling me that I belong; no longer classified as a Mexican, but as an American siding with his cause. These whispered words are said as truth, seen as pure, and embraced without hesitation.

Blessed is the family that demands prosperity; the family that believes that life’s battle will be conquered. Nothing great is bestowed upon the weak. Their beliefs become a young man’s guides when calculating moves. Being ignorant to the inevitable – a two-front war is born with familiar enemies on both sides, and him right in the middle.

I learned when to embrace my ancestors’ past and when to ignore it, for advancement. I learned when to salute our nation’s flag and when to tolerate it, for belonging. My way gave me face, but never did it give me acceptance. How could I grow, when so confused? How can I learn to live, when hypocrisy is the epitome?

Years have passed, and no longer a child, I allowed countless situations to decide how I would view the world forever more. From home teachings, to only kicking back with “Xicanos” (Chicanos, or Americans of Mexican descent) in school. To joining a street gang that taught how to hate the person who is not like me. To prison, where I only converse with fellow “Surenos” (gang members of Latin descent), with the main enemy being not whites nor blacks, but “Paisas” (any person born in a Latin country that immigrated to America).

All these situations and many more taught me this: how to have disgust for anyone that is not who I see in the mirror.

Funny thing is, deep down I know my views of the world are wrong, yet I act as if it was nothing; that my character and how I choose to portray it is normal. I may not verbally bash on a white man or show blatant nausea when having to interact with a “Paisa,” but alone or around fellow like-minded individuals, I can’t help but crack a joke on a “savana” (white person) having exaggerated assumptions of how they live, just as I group Latin people born to different countries as child molesters and “true” wetbacks.

Sitting here reading my words, I finally understand why I think this way and what I will be handing down to my daughter: I have the chance to change the world for generations to come. What I give to my daughter now as truth, will always be remembered as truth.

This was written to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to grow up in America as a “Xicano.” Not knowing how I would respond to what I wrote, I couldn’t have known that I would find it in me – what is said to be going on in this country – “racism.”

I have the power to pass down to my child a new view of the world. The only question is, am I strong enough to watch my daughter cry when she’s put into a situation where she is seen as different? What I say at that moment will decide whether my daughter lives life peacefully or breast-feeds her child the one sentence that ignites a civil war.

To visit The Advocate-Online, please click here: http://www.advocate-online.net/opinion/column-opinion/the-problem-of-modern-breastfed-racism-8256/

Feb 28th

Racists Attack Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ Over Film’s Depiction of An Interracial Relationship

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Jen Yamato @  The Daily Beast.com

The vile racists of the Internet are up in arms over the new movie Focus, which features stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie (sort of) knocking boots. Ugh.

While the white (and gold) vs. black (and blue) debate over #TheDress continues to divide and alter life as we know it, another far more insidious color war is raging in America: Racists are outraged over the interracial coupling in the movieFocus between Will Smith, an African-American man, and his Australian co-star Margot Robbie, a white woman.

The onetime Men in Black and Independence Day blockbuster king stars in the R-rated romantic caper as a charismatic con artist who welcomes Robbie’s femme fatale-in-training to his operation and falls for her—against his better judgment. It’s a rare sensual role for Smith, who gets steamy with Robbie in a few sex scenes that are actually conservatively shot and disappointingly brief. But boy does their onscreen love affair have racists’ panties in a bunch.

“Anyone getting fed up with all this race mixing being shoved down our throats?” wrote YouTube user Shomanoman on a trailer page for Focus.

“YUCK, Race-mixing Trash propaganda by Hollyjewed again,” declared Kriegen Gegen Das System, managing to squeeze in a shot at Tinseltown’s Jewish population while they were at it.

Video screenshot

Comments like these skyrocketed this month ahead of Focus’s theatrical release, sparking a wave of counter-commenters who jumped to defend Smith and interracial representation in movies. 

Contrary to Shomanoman’s claim, rampant “race mixing” is still conspicuously non-existent in Hollywood, where skin tones have to match if love or sex is in the cards for two characters. Just look to Smith’s own filmography: In his two decades as a bona fide leading man, he’s never before gotten down with a white woman onscreen.

“How are you not going to consider Cameron Diaz? That becomes massive news in the US. Outside America, it's no big deal. But in the US, it's still a racial issue.”

When he almost did in the 2005 romantic comedyHitch opposite would-be co-star Cameron Diaz, she was recast. Eva Mendes got the gig, and Smith blamed Hollywood.

“How are you not going to consider Cameron Diaz? That becomes massive news in the US. Outside America, it's no big deal. But in the US, it's still a racial issue,” Female First UK quoted him saying in 2005. “Ironically, Hollywood is happy to do it if the film is about racism. But they won't simply do it and ignore it." 

Even before he was a movie star, Smith addressed the flip side of interracial controversy on the second season of his TV sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. In the 1991 episode “Guess Who’s Coming To Marry?”, Will’s aunt Janice introduces the family to her fiancé, a white man, upsetting Will’s mother so much she refuses to attend the wedding. The family is taken aback but, for the sake of the children, have the decency to temper the way they discuss their initial prejudice (“She didn’t mention he was… tall…”):

Video screenshot

Despite that nod to Stanley Kramer’s 1967 landmark examination of interracial marriage in America, Smith didn’t have a single white girlfriend over the course of six seasons of Fresh Prince. When Focus was in its early stages it was to star Kristen Stewart before she bailed, citing the 20-year age difference between her and Smith. That didn’t stop media gossipers from speculating that her exit was race-related.

Smith’s grown-man sexy in Focus may not be as stimulating as it could or should be; for that, blame the abbreviated love scenes on writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and a chemistry with Robbie that’s stronger in off-set photo booth selfies than on the actual screen. At least the tastefully luxe, grown-up affair is a step in the right direction. And that’s a start to making all of the Internet racists’ nightmares finally come true. 


Please visit the daily beast.com by clicking here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/27/racists-attack-will-smith-s-focus-over-film-s-depiction-of-an-interracial-relationship.html

Feb 27th

Queer NYU Students Weigh In On Why Angel Haze And Ireland Baldwin’s Relationship Matters

By Yasmin S


Queer NYU Students Weigh In On Why Angel Haze And Ireland Baldwin’s Relationship Matters


On February 2nd, famously out/agender rapper Raeen Roes, better known by their stage name Angel Haze, dropped a new song. Not just any song, but “Candlxs,” a gushy, yet gorgeous tribute to their girlfriend, Ireland Baldwin. The cover art is hand-painted by Roes themself, and features the couple sitting close, backs to the proverbial camera. The whole package is quite cute and lends a weary listener some faith in true love.

On February 3rd, Haze and Baldwin broke up, subsequently breaking the hearts of queers the world over. The world was over, right?

On February 5th, Haze tweeted a picture of Baldwin (looking damn fine), captioned with hearts and whatnot. And all was well in the world again.

To clarify, I don’t have many shits to give about celebrity breakups/makeups. I’m not sure Haze, 23, and Baldwin, 19, even qualify as “celebrities,” with the former a talented artist and the latter criminally gorgeous progeny (her dad is Alec Baldwin). And I sure as hell am not socially aware enough to lend my burgeoning, partially-formed opinions to this article – gayness aside. I will say that coming out of a “cult,” as Haze did, makes growing up brown and lesbian in Mississippi sound like nirvana. But I digress.


Angel Haze and Ireland Baldwin are so very important. Here’s why (and why not), brought to you by a handful of your friendly neighborhood queers:

“Being queer is constantly having your body and affection policed – who’s allowed to show affection with which bodies, where. So here comes this this teenage, biracial queer couple who don’t give a fuck about identity politics or being a “good” lesbian couple, fucking up the game. Who get tattoos after two months and U-Haul after four, and then get dogs. It’s the queer dream. Also, Angel goes by “they” pronouns now and constantly corrects people’s ideas that they’re gay, identifying as pansexual. (Finger snaps into the depths of hell.)” – Sophie, Gallatin ‘16

“I have very little investment in their relationship. I pretty much live vicariously through Sophie on that one, because she’s pretty obsessed. My girlfriend Claire says, ‘I could not care less about their relationship. And I don’t think anyone else should.’” – Em and Claire, Gallatin and CAS ‘16

“I like the positive (from what I’ve seen) media coverage of an interracial queer couple, that’s great. And that Haze recently came out as agender on Twitter, that’s huge for representation.” – Hayley, Nursing ‘15

“I agree with the comments Haze has made about interracial dating, particularly between two women. I feel that queer lady relationships (especially with younger adults) are kind of trivialized/fetishized by media as just two girl who are friends. That kind of attitude, I think, permits the rest of society to have the same sort of view when they see queer lady couples. For all queer relationships, the media’s commentary and attention creates an example for others – that they can comment on queer relationships they see in public. I’m constantly berated by guys’ stares and comments when I show any sort of affection to a partner of mine. I understand that a lot of why those interactions happen is due to patriarchy and other issues, but I think there is one component of that interaction that is caused by this influence from media’s report of couples that two ladies engaged in intimate contact are just friends.” – Carrie, Steinhardt ‘15

“I’m really into Angel Haze, I think she’s fun and queer, so we’re on the same team. But I think this [their relationship] won’t pick up any traction, honestly. People care about male gayness because it disgusts some people. Honestly two cis white, skinny, hot girls [Angel Haze is Native American and African] in entertainment together just invokes horniness in the general population. Angel said some funny stuff about ‘people confusing them for friends’ but it’s like WOW, I’m so sorry your life isn’t in danger like butch queer women. Most of my queer lady friends are genderqueer and their personal style pisses people off sometimes because of their androgyny. Like, right by NYU, a group of ‘dykey’ lesbians were attacked in front of the IFC, a very white space. And these women were charged with heinous crimes – most of them went to jail. When Angel Haze whines about not being seen as a lesbian, it’s an extremely white-girl shallow thing to say.” – Skye, Steinhardt ‘16

“I feel good about there being an interracial queer couple gaining popular attention. I also love Angel Haze. And I think she forces people to confront their assumptions about hip-hop, black women, queer women and black queer women. Her cover of ‘Same Love’ demonstrates everything that is wrong with Macklemore’s original version and his commercial success as a result of queer people’s narratives. I think the way people talk about Ireland Baldwin and Angel Haze also exposes continued discomfort about bother queer relationships and interracial relationships.” – Simone, CAS ‘15

“The first time I heard Angel Haze’s music, I was really blown away. Her lyrics have both a tragic and powerful poetic force. ‘Battle Cry’ is a beautiful and bone-chilling song. As an artist, I respect her willingness to be unapologetically vulnerable in front of everyone like this. And then to find out that she identified as pansexual felt like Christmas. We need more outspoken performers keeping it real like that, talking directly about sexually traumatic experiences while also being proud of their sexuality and identity – and not having the two be in conflict, nor be causal to ‘queerness’. As a person of color with Native American roots, Angel Haze’s art and voice act also as a breath of much-needed fresh air for today’s predominately white-washed pop culture. I think people don’t really know how to react to lesbian relationships or any relationships between women (cis or trans), for that matter. Think of the media’s portrayal of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and her ‘gal pal’ Alicia Cargile. Even if there is nothing sexual actually going on between them, there still seems to be an ongoing effort to de-sexualize any relationship between women, especially when they are both have a certain amount of social or cultural power. Love and sex between women, agender, or trans folk is still made invisible and seen as threatening or perhaps just inconceivable to the mainstream.” – Sophie, CAS ‘14

“When they broke up, I literally got three different text messages from three different lesbians. There were Facebook statuses going ‘Oh my god, what the fuck?!?’ And I think it’s because she’s a normal girl [Ireland Baldwin], a normal pretty person who is openly – hardcore openly – dating a girl. They’ve been on the red carpet, there’s no sketchy coverage or ‘I’m actually bisexual’ stuff going on – they’re really dating each other. That’s what so appealing, what’s such a big deal. It’s like ‘holy shit, you can do that!’ She’s a hyper-reality of a person – tall, gorgeous, famous parents and everything. And she’s one of us! One of the top people is part of our crew now! The LGBTQ community is so small anyway, having this – we bond over it. You know how if there’s one lesbian character on a TV show – even if she’s just in one episode – you freak out and watch the entire series just to support the one appearance of queerness? This is like that. It’s on a national stage and repetitious and true. Your head fucking explodes.” – Lindsay, CAS ‘15

And there you have it, folks.

Please visit NYULOCAL.com by clicking here: http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2015/02/27/queer-nyu-students-weigh-angel-haze-ireland-baldwins-relationship-matters/

Feb 27th

The Ins and Outs of Diversity in the Dominican Republic

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Cindy Rodriguez @ Latina.com


In an attempt to debunk the stereotypes on what exactly a “Dominican looks like,” Twitter user UsDominicans809 posted a photo of a group of beautiful women (er, possibly models?) who are all super diverse in physical identity along with a sassy tweet.

“They're all dominican; so next time somebody says "you don't look dominican" tell that dumbass, we're all unique,” as written by user UsDominicans809.

This comment accurately encompasses the identity struggle Latinos in the U.S. go through day in and day out which is why pieces like “Things You Shouldn’t Say To Latinos,” or Afro-Latinos and the often overlooked pale Latinas do so well. They reflect all the misconceptions that go with the Latino identity.

First, Latinos are not a race, it’s an ethnicity; but you knew that already. Latin America's diverse racial demographics are the result of a mixed-race background from European, African and indigenous cultures.

But if you didn’t already know… race in the Dominican Republic is way more complicated than in the United States.

Here, you either fall under a handful of categories: Asian, Black, White, India, and so forth but, according to Public Radio International, Dominicans use an array of words to self-identify their degree of “blackness”, for lack of a better term, like: moreno, trigueno, and blanco-oscuro.

Which is odd because “more than 90 percent of Dominicans possess some degree of African descent -- and that the very first rebellion of black slaves occurred here in 1522,” according to The Root. But, in the their federal census, most recently, 82 percent designated their race as “indio”, while only 4.13 percent designate themselves as black.

Then again, who would identify with their African-descent in a country that reveres the very man who colonized it? Yes, the Dominican Republic is filled with Christopher Columbus statues and tributes everywhere but I dare you to find the same amount of monuments or statues in Santo Domingo in honor of their African ancestors.

Nope. Nada, right? Which brings us back to the photo that UsDominicans posted.

The white population in the Dominican Republic isn’t as prominent as blacks but they still exist. In facts, whites are one of the four ethnicities in country which are descendants from French and Spanish settlers and others from Germans, Hungarians or Americans.

This attitude matters even more so because Dominicans are one of the major immigrant groups from Latin America to the United States. That’s about 1.5 million and counting. And, of all the Latino immigrant groups, Dominicans in the U.S. are the most likely to identify with country of origin. Now if that doesn’t spell out pride I don’t know what does.

How we self-identify is a huge part of how we see ourselves in society but sometimes how others see us and how they communicate that can leave an even deeper imprint on your psyche.

So, next time someone makes an ignorant remark on your identity know that you have one of two choices: calling them a “dumbass” or using this opportunity as a teaching moment. It’s totally your call.

I prefer the latter but that’s only because these comments have worn me down so much over the years that I’ve reached a whole new level of patience.


Please visit Latina.com by clicking here: http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/our-issues/diversity-latinos-dominican-republic?page=1

Feb 27th

My black history: How I learned it’s OK to love racists

By Yasmin S

ORIGNAL SOURCE: Trish Callahan @ Bangordailynews.com

Trish Callahan

A couple of months ago, I wrote a BDN OpEd about race in reaction to the events in Ferguson, Missouri. I reflected on growing up adopted and mixed race and on parenting fair-skinned children. I referred to my Polish grandfather, who served over 30 years as a Boston police officer and who was outspokenly racist most of his life. He was our Archie Bunker, my beautiful grandmother his Edith, and it was no secret they did not approve of their daughter marrying an Irish man, then bringing me — an adopted, mixed-race child — into the family.

Since my OpEd ran, I’ve realized I was wrong to try to cull my experiences with race into 700 words, especially as it pertains to my grandparents. An important part of my black history is how I learned to love, respect and admire my grandparents. The word count didn’t allow for me to talk about everything they taught me, including that it’s okay for a dark-skinned person to grow to love racists.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s no sitcom sanitizing how bizarre it was as a small child to listen to lectures at the dinner table about how the “n’s are ruining Boston.” And there was that time my grandfather got all bent at me for saying I didn’t like watermelon, insisting, “but you people LOVE watermelon!” I’d be a liar if I said the situation didn’t contribute to my youthful angst and identity crisis regarding race.

More importantly, though, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say my grandparents were wonderful people who were so much more than just racist. They were the first American-born children in their families, they were bilingual and my childhood was a constant immersion lesson in that culture. My grandmother was a zen master of fussy babies, and I learned everything I know about soothing them from watching her.

My grandfather was a proud Army veteran, active duty in World War II, and had the shrapnel in his leg to prove it. Besides his military and civilian service, he lived to serve those around him. He was that neighbor, friend or relative who was there to help get the car started or to run the errand. He always had a second job to provide as much of the American dream for his wife and five children as he possibly could.

Filling his extra hours delivering fruit baskets and potato chips financed a move to the suburbs and a cottage a short walk from the ocean. Every time we pulled a Wise Potato Chip air float from the never-ending supply in the garage and dragged it down to the beach, we were reminded of my grandfather’s tenacious work ethic. He and my grandmother were methodical, hard-working, devoted Catholics.

When they did the polka, they were among the best. They became an intertwined, graceful, highball-induced mass of twirling, spinning joy. It’s like they experienced some kind of metamorphosis once the band started. Mental snapshots of those moments are my favorite memories of them.

A close second is the time my grandfather taught me how to gamble — probably also highball-induced. Looking back, he was quite purposeful in making sure I was the only grandchild he included in that activity. I was 8, but apparently corruptible. I bet on red eight on the roulette wheel, won and didn’t care about the morality of it then and still don’t.

The adult me understands the variables that contributed to their racism: Every generation struggles with the baggage it’s born with. No one is comfortable talking about how much eugenics influenced perceptions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Early 20th century Boston wasn’t exactly a melting pot, either. Each ethnic group staked out its neighborhood and resented other groups, as each desperately grabbed for their piece of the American pie.

My grandfather continued to work into retirement. His last job was part time in a junkyard with three Mexican immigrants as co-workers. My mom said there was a momentary pause at his wake when those three gentleman walked through the door to pay their respects. No one knew or expected he developed relationships with them, but maybe we should have. My racist grandfather was a good man at heart. Late in life he just got better, leaving a lasting lesson for us all.

Trish Callahan is a mother and writer who lives in Augusta and does consulting work for a local nonprofit.


PLEASE VISIT BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM BY CLICKING HERE: http://bangordailynews.com/2015/02/26/the-point/my-black-history-how-i-learned-its-ok-to-love-racists/

Feb 27th

Read Leonard Nimoy's 1968 Words of Wisdom to a Mixed-Race Teen

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Robert Kessler @ Yahoo Celebrity.comLeonard Nimoy (Getty Images)

Leonard Nimoy (Getty Images)

Leonard Nimoy, who passed away Friday at the age of 83, was best known for his portrayal of Spock on Star Trek. In addition to the legions of Star Trek fans who revered him, Spock and, by extension Nimoy, was considered a hero by many people who'd ever felt different.

In 1968, one of those people, a teenaged girl whose mother was black and whose father was white, wrote to Fave magazine asking Spock, who was half-human, half-Vulcan, how he'd handled the rejection of not fitting in. Nimoy was so moved by the letter that he penned a response, which Fave then published the following month. Nimoy's letter is both touching and inspiring.

"It takes a great deal of courage to turn your back on popularity and to go out on your own," Nimoy writes. "Although inside you're not really like members of the pack, it's still frightening to decide to leave them, because as long as you're popular, you have at least someone to hang around with."

Here it is in full, courtesy of My Stark Trek Scrapbook:




Feb 27th

Watch: Sports anchor's amazing anti-racism speech goes viral

By Yasmin S

Watch: Sports anchor's amazing anti-racism speech goes viral2015-02-26-dale-hansen

Sports anchor Dale Hansen of WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth gave an impassioned, deeply disappointed and very personal monologue this week when reporting an instance of racism at a high school basketball game in Flower Mound, Texas.

At a game between Flower Mound High School and Plano East on Feb. 16, students in the bleachers were shown holding up two signs together that read "white power." The photo was distributed on Twitter.

"Too many parents and apparently others who care tried to defend what you cannot defend. Some parents actually argued that it was just a mistake. They had five signs, grabbed two, and just accidentally, when held together, said 'white power,'" Hansen begins.

He continues, getting personal:

"I feel sorry for people who find value from the value of their home of the money they have, but I don't blame the kids as much as some of you might, maybe because I used to be one of those kids."

Then Hansen tells of his past, talking about his upbringing in a small Iowa farm town that had only one black family in the county, where he was "raised by a man who used the n-word like it was a proper noun."

"The one black family (his father) knew were good people, all the others he didn't know, they were the bad people," Hansen says. "The ignorance in that reasoning, if you think about it long enough, will twist your mind and it twisted mine.

Hansen ends powerfully:

"Kids have to be taught to hate, and it's our parents and grandparents and our teachers and coaches, too, who teach us to hate. Kids become the product of that environment. I was and they are."

PLEASE WATCH THIS AMAZING SPEECH BY CLICKING HERE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/02/26/dale-hansen-texas-speech-racism-parents/24058147/

Find out more about Dale Hansen and follow him on Twitter.

Feb 26th

Who Were the Hall Brothers? History Colorado Uncovers a Denver Mystery

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Amber Taufen @ Westword.com

One of the photographs from the collection of Herman and Herbert Hall.
One of the photographs from the collection of Herman and Herbert Hall.
History Colorado

Museum collections are full of mysteries, and Megan Friedel, the curator of photography at History Colorado, 1200 Broadway, uncovered a head-scratcher when she decided to host a lecture (coming up on Thursday, February 26) about a collection of photos taken by twin brothers Herman and Herbert Hall in the early part of the twentieth century, when the Hall family moved to Denver.

"What makes Herbert and Herman especially interesting is that they were mixed-race," explains Freidel. "And the story I'm uncovering is about what it meant to be mixed-race in Denver in Curtis Park at a time when the KKK was very active and there were these unspoken covenants about who could own real estate."

Who Were the Hall Brothers? History Colorado Uncovers a Denver Mystery
History Colorado

After the last of the Hall brothers, Herman, passed away, a neighbor bought the old family home on Glenarm Place where the never-married brothers had put down roots. She found the collection of photographs and donated it to History Colorado in 1984. "The curator at the time wrote up a brief description of what he thought was in the collection — 'photos taken by an African-American photographer in Denver at the early part of the 20th century in Curtis Park,'" notes Freidel. "But I don't know that anyone has ever looked at the photos since we got the collection in 1984."

A couple of months ago, she found the collection — about eighty glass-plate negatives — and started scanning and examining the images. "I realized as I was looking at them and started to do more research on the family that the story is much more complex than I anticipated," she notes. "The photos do depict Herman and Herbert — it's not always easy to tell who's taking the picture — and their family, and some photos of Denver, but they also depict the family's travels around the state — an auto tour to the top of Pikes Peak and that kind of thing."

She used census and draft records to track down more information on the family, and discovered that the Hall family came from Sparta, Illinois, the first stop beyond the border of Missouri, a slave-owning state, back in the days of the Underground Railroad. "They were considered black in Illinois," Friedel says. "They briefly moved to St. Louis and were also listed as black. After they moved to Denver, from the 1910 census onward, they are listed as white.

"I tried to track down why that would be," she adds. "Were they passing? Did they really consider themselves to be white? What do their photos tell us about their life in Denver as a mixed-race family at this time?" To find out more, she talked to former neighbors and researched documents available at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.

"Herman and Herbert's father, Benjamin, bought their house outright in 1909, and there’s some question there whether they were passing because they wanted to be property owners," she continues. "It’s still a story that I’m teasing out. This is a family that came from a town in Illinois filled with former slaves. There was a lot of intermarriage with the French descendants, and there’s also the question of why they came to Denver, and why in 1901 when the family came to Denver, did they suddenly decide to publicly renounce that part of their heritage?

Who Were the Hall Brothers? History Colorado Uncovers a Denver Mystery
History Colorado

"The photos themselves are stunning," Friedel adds. "The brothers traveled all over the state, and their father was part of the crew that built the Moffat Tunnel, and there are photos of the tunnel, parades in the neighborhood and some just lovely photos of people sitting on their front porches on Glenarm Place.

Concludes Friedel: "This is the kind of mystery we find a lot in archives, and we just try to piece together their lives from the artifacts they left behind."


Please visit Westword.com for more interesting information by Amber Taufen by clicking here: http://www.westword.com/arts/who-were-the-hall-brothers-history-colorado-uncovers-a-denver-mystery-6361654

Feb 25th

Kanye West Opens Up On Interracial Relationships And Racism During 'BET Honors' Speech

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Brennan Williams @ Huffington Post.com


For over 10 years, Kanye West has consistently created various pop culture trends across the world. Now, the Grammy Award-winner has ventured beyond music and recently released an exclusive apparel and sneaker line with Adidas, which landed him among the five luminaries honored this year during the eighth annual BET Honors ceremony.

The prestigious event, which was taped last month in Washington D.C. and aired on the network Monday night, recognized West for his creative efforts by honoring him with the show's Visionary Award.

During his acceptance speech, Kanye spoke on racism and recalled a previous conversation with his wife, Kim Kardashian, where she revealed how her father, Robert Kardashian, reacted to being called a “N***a Lover,” after discovering the racial slur written on his Bentley around the time he served as one of O.J. Simpson's defense attorneys in the infamous 1994 murder trial.

“She never saw her father curse, get mad, he was the most laid back human being. And he went so crazy and tried to chase the people down,” West explained. “And she sat there crying saying, ‘Dad, you’re going so crazy?’ And he said to her, ‘one day you may have a black child…a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful black child…and it’s gonna be hard. You’re gonna see how hard it is.’ So true enough, we deal with racism, because there are different races. Or the micro of it is that we focus on the different races, as opposed to the macro, which is the human race.”

West went on to say: “The bit of sound bites that everyone loved from last year that got taken out of context, or misunderstood, did come from a place of saying, ‘yes, part of the reason why I’m not allowed to be empowered is because of race, because of people’s perception of celebrity,’ because all they want to present to young black men is the idea of making it to the league or making it to be a rapper, but not the idea of becoming an owner.”


To visit original post website please click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/24/kanye-west-interracial-relationships-racism-bet-honors_n_6745092.html


Feb 23rd

Former hockey player Val James, raised in Hauppauge, writes about his experiences with racism

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Barbara Barker @ Newsday.com

Portrait of former NHL player Valmore James at
Portrait of former NHL player Valmore James at the One King West Hotel in Toronto on Feb. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Dale Wilcox Photography 

It should have been one of the happiest times of his life.

Val James was 25 years old in March 1982, and the Buffalo Sabres recently had called him up, making him the first American-born black player in the NHL.James had just finished a game against the Bruins at Boston Garden and was settling into the team bus outside of the arena. The Sabres had lost but James, a left wing, played a couple of shifts. He remembers feeling pretty good about the way he had contributed, how he had exchanged punches with one of Boston's Crowder brothers.

Then a commotion outside the bus window jarred him out of his seat. A group of "fans" had surrounded the bus. James said they began to rock the vehicle, and then a beer bottle hit the windshield, causing the glass to spiderweb.

James said they began chanting for him to come out, but they weren't chanting his name.

"They were chanting, 'Send the [racial expletive] out,' " James said in an interview with Newsday. "It was scary. If they had had 10 more people, they would have flipped the bus."

James -- who grew up in Hauppauge -- played in 14 NHL games, including three in the playoffs, with the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs during a professional hockey career that spanned from 1978 to 1988.

It has taken him close to 30 years to come to terms with what he went through. But he finally has, and the result is a heart-wrenching and inspirational book.

"Black Ice: The Val James Story" was written with John Gallagher, a former fan of the Long Island Ducks hockey team. It includes graphic details of the daily indignities the 6-2, 205-pound James faced during his career, mostly as an enforcer, in the American Hockey League when players born in the United States were beginning to make inroads into a sport dominated by Canadians.

Though Willie O'Ree, a Canadian, broke the NHL color barrier with the Boston Bruins in 1958, James is believed to be only the seventh black player to follow in the next 24 years.

"When I started skating, I set out to be a hockey player, not a black hockey player,'' James writes in the book. "However, the two concepts quickly became intertwined. And not by choice. From early on, there were some people who were determined to prove that being black and being a hockey player were mutually exclusive.''


The book details how some fans threw bananas on the ice, pelted James with racial slurs and taunted him with posters of himself dressed in a grass skirt with a bone in his nose.

It describes a minor-league game in Salem, Virginia, in 1981. A CBS News crew, on hand to do a story on James, filmed a teenager holding up a watermelon with his name on it.

The book also describes his mostly idyllic childhood on Long Island and how he said it left him totally unprepared for the racism he faced after leaving home at age 16 to play junior hockey.

Said James, now 58: "It is a hell of a thing wondering if you would be better off having been called the N-word more often when you were growing up.'


Growing up on LI

Suffolk County was largely rural when James moved with his family from Ocala, Florida, to Stony Brook in the late 1950s. At first, James said, his father, Henry, worked as a migrant worker on a potato farm and the family lived in a one-room house without running water or electricity. James' father moved on to a job as a night watchman at the Long Island Arena in Commack, and shortly before James' 13th birthday, Henry gave him his first pair of skates.

While his father worked at night, James said he taught himself how to skate by pushing a wooden chair on the ice and chasing after the family's Doberman. He said as he stumbled around the ice, he dreamed of one day coming back as a member of the Ducks, the Eastern Hockey League team that played at the Arena.

Henry James soon was put in charge of all physical operations at the facility, everything from driving the Zamboni to changing over the ice for various concerts and shows. The family moved to Hauppauge and Val started playing for the Suffolk Ducks in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League, which was co-founded by Rangers general manager Emile Francis to help develop local talent. When they weren't playing, James and his teammates were hired by his father to help out around the rink.

"Henry was a legend," said Chris Brinster, who grew up on the same street as James in Hauppauge and also played on several teams with him on Long Island and later in Canada. "We were all in the same boat. We were just a bunch of kids who didn't have much money and loved hockey. He had us doing all kinds of jobs."

James recalls one time when he and a bunch of other teenage "rink rats" were setting up a stage for an Alice Cooper show.

"Alice Cooper starts coming out and picking up boards to help us," James said. "All of a sudden, I see him lying on the ground. I was like, 'Oh, man, we just hurt Alice Cooper, we're all going to get fired.' But he just springs back up laughing and stuff. That was the kind of fun we used to have."

James and his five siblings almost always were the only black kids on the ice in Commack, but he said it was something he really didn't pay much attention to until he and his teammates went to a tournament in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

During warm-ups, a man standing next to the ice repeatedly called him a racial slur. He said his teammates began firing pucks at the man and rallied around him in the locker room. At the same time, James said he realized that they couldn't completely understand what he was going through.

"It was like someone dropped a 10-pound weight on me. It crushed me," James said. "I almost quit hockey and my mother was dead set against me continuing to play, but I talked with my father and he said this is what you're going to have to go through and it was my decision. I decided this was something I wanted to pursue."

And so he did. When James was 16, former Long Island Ducks player Buzz Deschamps helped him and three other Long Island players -- Tom Hasenzahl, Steve Amoruso and Richie Campisi -- get a tryout with a Junior B team in Midland, Ontario. They all made the roster. Big, black and American, James became an instant target for some fans who weren't all that happy to have non-Canadians playing in their junior hockey league.

Greg Martinelli, James' teammate in the Met League, recalled picking him up after he came home for Christmas in his first year in Ontario.

"You could tell something had happened. He was really different," said Martinelli, who lives in Smithtown. Still, Martinelli said he wasn't fully aware of the extent of what his friend had gone through until years later, when he read the first couple of chapters of his book.

"I don't think Val had been exposed to much racism on Long Island," said Martinelli, now a hockey teaching pro. "To go through what he had to go through to play hockey, it's really a story of persistence. Not too many people could have done that."


Abuse hurt deeply

Years of abuse began to take its toll, James said. After he injured his shoulder while playing for the AHL Baltimore Skipjacks 27 years ago, he decided he had enough. He went back to Long Island for a short period, then settled in Niagara Falls, Ontario, near where his wife, Ina, was from. He now works the overnight shift at an indoor water park, doing maintenance on the slides and motors.

"The only way I can explain how I felt is imagine the worst word you can call a woman. Now imagine having that word thrown at you every 30 seconds for 60 minutes," James said. "Now multiply that by 40 road games a year for 10 years. I think what happens is it eventually does some psychological damage to someone."

For the first 10 years after he retired, he refused to watch a hockey game on television. He and his wife don't own a computer, and they joke that they were happy to be "aging hippies" living off the grid.

James, however, began to think more and more about everything he had gone through. When Gallagher, who had followed James' career, contacted him three years ago about writing a book, he felt he was ready to tell his story.

The process was both painful and cathartic. Ina, who met James late in his career, was stunned after reading the first couple of chapters. "He had kept so much of it inside," Ina said. "I started reading the book and I couldn't stop crying. I was like, 'Why didn't you tell me?' It was just too much."

Since the book was published earlier this month, many of his former teammates have reached out to James, and he finds himself re-embracing the game.

Last week, one of his former teams, the AHL Rochester Americans, honored him with a Val James Night, and he received a standing ovation. The Sabres alumni association has reached out to him, and he is planning a trip to the New York area next week. He plans to attend an Islanders game on Tuesday and meet some of his old Long Island friends, many of whom he hasn't seen in nearly three decades.

Said James: "It's taken me a long time, but I'm finally ready to come back to hockey. I'm proud of what I did . . . treated people the way I wanted to be treated. It doesn't matter I went through all that and that people were calling me all kinds of names, because I never once diminished my belief. My belief was we all have to get along in order to take this next step as a human race."


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