The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore Bree Newsome – July 2 2015

Activist Bree Newsome made her late-night debut on Thursday’s edition of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore to discuss her recent arrest for removing the Confederate flag from in front of the state capital building in Columbia, South Carolina.

“It was about 10 of us who pulled the whole thing together, including folks who were down in South Carolina who could actually go down there and look at the scene,” Newsome told Wilmore as the pair drank mint juleps, a reference to a joke Newsome made on Twitter.

Newsome said that while was had some worries about executing the act of protest, the feeling of accomplishment once she did remove the flag was very strong.

“It was just this really amazing feeling of ‘Mission accomplished,’” she said. “One of the hardest points I was concerned about was getting 15 feet up the pole. I knew once I got that far up I was pretty much clear to make it up there. […] Once I got up there and grabbed it, I was like, ‘Yes! Take me to jail.’”

Last week, Newsome was hailed as a hero on social media by the likes of Michael Moore and Ava DuVernay, who wrote on Twitter that Newsome was a “a black superhero I admire.” Wilmore didn’t mention DuVernay by name during his interview with Newsome, but did come up with superhero names for his guest. Among them: Soul Pole, Queen Bree and Bree Newsome.

Our nation’s most toxic obsession: The violent history of “Real Americans” – HEATHER DIGBY PARTON SATURDAY, JUL 4, 2015 06:30 AM PDT

From its earliest beginnings to its 1st black president, America has seen too much bloodshed over who truly belongs

Our nation's most toxic obsession: The violent history of "Real Americans"

From the early days of our nation, we have been debating what constitutes a “Real American.” If one were to define a real American as a person indigenous to the continent we know as North America, one would certainly have to say that the only Real Americans are native Americans. But since the United States as we know it was formed by the offspring of British colonialists and religious migrants who wanted the colony for themselves, we can fairly say that from the beginning that has never been an accurate definition, even though it probably should have been. (Some people have even described the original “nativists” as the Indians, which I think is wrong. They were defending their own lands against invasion, which isn’t the same thing at all.)

Needless to say the most repressed immigrants in America have always been the descendants of African slaves. They didn’t ask to come here and they certainly didn’t ask to be slaves. But their ancestors were here long before most of the rest of us and their claim to being Real Americans could not stronger. Of course nativists usually don’t see it that way, simply because most nativists are also racists. All you have to do is look at the nonsensical conspiracy theory about the first African American president being a “foreigner”to see how mixed up race and ethnicity are with those folks.

Be that as it may, going all the way back to the beginning, this country has been a nation of immigrants from all over the world. And while we have, at various times and in many different ways, celebrated that fact, we have also been a xenophobic society from the get-go. In the 19th century, the original Americans were upset about Irish catholic immigration. There was fighting in the street over that one for many decades. And soon there was hatred towards German immigrants (the single largest ethnic sub-group in America, by the way) with complaints about their alleged unwillingness to assimilate properly and their habits of speaking their mother tongue, sending their kids to their own schools, and attending their German church (Lutheran, of course). In the 1890s, a Wisconsin Governor said:

“We must fight alienism and selfish ecclesiasticism…. The parents, the pastors and the church have entered into a conspiracy to darken the understanding of the children, who are denied by cupidity and bigotry the privilege of even the free schools of the state.”

Those Germans just refused to assimilate. And look what’s happened. They’re everywhere.

You don’t even want to think about the hatred toward the Chinese. It was one thing to import them by the thousands to do the heavy scut work of building railroads and the like, quite an other to consider them Real Americans. The Irish Americans who had been the object of xenophobic rage in earlier decades were particularly upset by the Chinese, and they led the way to the Chinese exclusion act in 1882, the first of America’s official federal immigration containment programs.

In the 20th century, all those previously considered unworthy (except the Chinese, of course) were suddenly okay, as a huge influx of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe decided to come to the land of opportunity. The government went to work to ensure that this didn’t get out of hand. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge proposed literacy tests, making the intention very clear:

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Jesse Jackson Is Taking on Silicon Valley’s Epic Diversity Problem – —By Josh Harkinson | Tue Jun. 30, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

He “just gets into rooms, and people listen.”

Illustration by Radio

Illustration by Radio

In May 2014, the Reverend Jesse Jackson traveled from his home in Chicago to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, to address the search giant’s annual shareholder meeting. Technology isn’t what you would call a core area for the 73-year-old civil rights leader, who carries an old-school flip phone and oversees a website,, that looks like a relic from the GeoCities era. But Jackson had a bone to pick. Despite Google’s mission to make the world’s data “universally accessible and useful,” it had been fighting for yearsto stop the release of federal data on diversity in its workforce. “There should be nothing to hide, and much to be proud of and promote,” Jackson told the company’s executives after politely requesting its diversity stats. “I ask you, in the name of all you represent, to pursue this mission.”

David Drummond, the company’s only black high-level executive, sized up Jackson, who stood out amid the mostly white crowd. “Many of the companies in the Valley have been reluctant to divulge that data, including Google,” he responded. “And quite frankly, I think we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re wrong about that.”

The exchange was the public culmination of some behind-the-scenes arm wrestling that was vintage Jesse Jackson. Drummond, 52, was an old friend of the reverend who had volunteered for his 1988 presidential campaign and helped launch Jackson’s first tech initiative, the Silicon Valley Project, 11 years later. The two men had met quietly a month or so earlier at Google HQ, and again around the time of the shareholder meeting. Drummond knew Jackson would ask for the stats, and Jackson knew Drummond would agree to release them. Two weeks later, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock, did just that. “Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity,” he said, upon revealing that the company’s overall workforce was only 30 percent female, 3 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black.

Rather than simply criticize Google’s abysmal numbers, Jackson issued a statement calling for other companies to “follow Google’s lead” and release their data too. FacebookTwitterLinkedInMicrosoftAmazon, and Apple did so a few months after, and it wasn’t pretty: In most cases, less than 10 percent of the companies’ overall employees were black or Latino, compared with 27 percent in the American workforce as a whole. This chart reflects the broader tech sector:

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No men allowed: publisher accepts novelist’s ‘year of women’ challenge – Who needs men? … the writers shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys women’s prize for fiction with chair Shami Chakrabarti Who needs men? … the writers shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys women’s prize for fiction with chair Shami Chakrabarti. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Alison Flood Thursday 11 June 2015 03.00 EDT

Small press And Other Stories will produce no books by men in 2018 in answer to Kamila Shamsie’s call for direct action to beat gender bias in publishing

Who needs men? … the writers shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys women’s prize for fiction with chair Shami Chakrabarti

Small press And Other Stories has answered author Kamila Shamsie’s provocative call for a year of publishing women to redress “gender bias” in the literary world.

The novelist made what she called her “provocation” in Saturday’s Guardian, revealing that just under 40% of books submitted to the Booker prize over the past five years were by women, and pointing to everything from the author Nicola Griffith’s research, which found that far more prize-winning novels have male than female protagonists, to the Vida statistics showing that male authors and reviewers command more space than female.

“At this point, I’m going to assume that the only people who really doubt that there is a gender bias going on are those who stick with the idea that men are better writers and better critics,” wrote Shamsie. “Enough. Across the board, enough … I would argue that is time for everyone, male and female, to sign up to a concerted campaign to redress the inequality … Why not have a year of publishing women: 2018, the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, seems appropriate.”

And Other Stories, the literary press that uses a network of readers to source its titles, has become the first publisher to accept the challenge. “I think we can do it,” said publisher Stefan Tobler. “And if we don’t do it, what is going to change?”

A small publisher, And Other Stories releases 10 to 12 new titles a year. “We’ve realised for a while that we’ve published more men than women,” said Tobler. “This year we’ve done seven books by men and four by women … We have a wide range of people helping us with our choices, and our editors are women … and yet somehow we still publish more books by men than women.”


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The Thin White Line: Most Cops Don’t Look Like the Residents They Serve – By Bryan Schatz and AJ Vicens | Tue May 5, 2015 6:05 AM EDT

Big city police forces have tried to become more diverse. Mostly they’ve failed.

Baltimore police faced off against protesters on April 30. David Goldman/AP

In Baltimore, white people make up 28 percent of the population but 50 percent of the city’s police officers. In Philadelphia, where police and protesters clashed last Thursday during a #FreddieGray rally, whites are 37 percent of the population but 58 percent of the police force. In Sacramento, whites comprise just 36 percent of residents but 72 percent of police.

Those are just a few of the departments whose ethnic makeup is dramatically out of sync with the demographics of the cities they serve. Using census data, Chris Zubak-Skees of the Center for Public Integrity crunched the numbers for the nation’s 50 most populous cities. In 49 of them—Atlanta being the lone exception—the cops are whiter than the community.

Zubak-Skees notes that police departments in many cities have worked hard to make themselves more diverse. Acting on recommendations by the 1968 Kerner Commission—which was appointed to investigate the causes of riots in Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit—many departments began reviewing fair promotion policies and recruiting African Americans. The numbers have improved somewhat over the years, but most big-city forces are still far from representative. The Kerner report warned that an “abrasive relationship between police and the minority communities has been a major—and explosive—source of grievance, tension, and disorder.”

“For many, those words still ring depressingly true today,” CPI notes.

The following charts give a breakdown for 15 cities, including those with the greatest disparities to those whose police forces closely reflect the people they serve. If you don’t see your city here, scroll down to the table containing all of the 50 cities Zubak-Skees examined.

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Indiana law backs GOP hopefuls into a corner – By Katie Glueck and Adam B. Lerner 3/31/15 9:58 PM EDT

Mike Pence is pictured. | Getty

Mike Pence just lobbed a grenade into the Republican presidential field.

The Indiana governor’s religious freedom law has ignited yet another controversial culture war debate that has Republican contenders juggling awkward questions about issues they would just as soon not touch.

This time around, the policy issue isn’t same-sex marriage — it’s about nondiscrimination laws and whether they should accompany Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one just passed in Indiana.

But regardless, Republicans are getting pummeled over gay rights issues of all sorts — and face the familiar dilemma of whether a conservative stance that makes for good politics in a GOP primary will hurt them in a general election.

A New York Times editorial called Indiana’s law a “cover for bigotry” and said “nobody is fooled” by conservatives’ misdirection as to the law’s purpose. Video of Rand Paul calling homosexuality a “behavior” surfaced on BuzzFeed. And a Democratic governor used the term “bigot” to describe Pence and by extension the potential 2016 candidates lining up behind him, who so far include Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry.

“There’s no rational discussion going on, ideological voters of all types only hear what they want to hear, and [candidates] have to be careful about what they are saying so as not to offend the base in the 15 seconds or 140 characters they might use to engage on the issue,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist who was once a crusader against gay marriage but has since moderated on the issue. “On the other hand, you don’t want to completely stake out a position that creates a problem for you in the general election.”

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Amid Criticism, Indiana’s Republicans To Revisit Religious Freedom Law – MARCH 30, 201511:16 AM ET

Republican leaders in Indiana say they will work to ensure the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, both Republicans, discuss their plans for clarifying the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a news conference today at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, both Republicans, discuss their plans for clarifying the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a news conference today at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Michael Conroy/AP

Republican leaders in Indiana say they will work to ensure the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“This law does not discriminate, and it will not be allowed to do so,” Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long said at a news conference with state House Speaker Brian Bosma.

They said they would “encourage our colleagues to adopt a clarifying measure of some sort to remove this misconception about the bill.” The Associated Press says that the measure “prohibits state laws that ‘substantially burden’ a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of ‘person’ includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.”

As Indiana Public Media reports, the two Republicans said the state’s GOP governor, Mike Pence, was unclear about the law when he appeared Sunday on ABC’s This Week. (Pence spoke of an “avalanche of intolerance that has been poured on our state” but declined to say whether the law makes it legal to discriminate.)

As NPR’s Scott Neuman reported over the weekend, Pence in media interviews said he supports an effort to “clarify the intent” of the legislation while acknowledging surprise over the hostility it has sparked.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act stoked controversy almost from the moment it was passed by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature and signed by Pence on Thursday. Pushback came not only from Hoosiers and the hashtag #boycottindiana, but also from some of the country’s biggest corporate figures, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle. (Scott has a roundup of the criticism here.)

Pence and other supporters of the measure note that Indiana is not the only state with such a law on the books. But as Scott noted, “Although the law is similar to a federal one and those in 19 other statessexual orientation is not a protected class in Indiana, leaving the door open for discrimination, critics say.”

At today’s news conference, Long said the law “doesn’t discriminate, and anyone on either side of this issue suggesting otherwise is just plain flat wrong.”

Bosma added: “What it does is it sets a standard of review for a court when issues of religious freedom and other rights collide due to government action.”

Democrats want the measure repealed, but Long and Bosma said that was unlikely.

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