Columbia racial tensions go beyond University of Missouri campus – by Kayla McCormick November 10, 2015 1:19PM ET Updated November 11, 2015 2:16AM ET & Massoud Hayoun

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at Nov 11, 2015 12.55

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The president of the Columbia, Missouri branch of the NAACP has received a threatening letter amid protests that have gripped the University of Missouri (Mizzou), whose President Tim Wolfe resigned this week after an outcry from black students accusing him and other school officials of long ignoring racial slurs and bias on campus.

Columbia NAACP President Mary Ratliff — a stalwart of the national campaign for civil rights — received a letter Saturday threatening her and President Barack Obama, in what rights leaders say is a reminder that race issues in this urban hub are not confined to Mizzou.

“Die all you dirty devil black n****rs from hell,” said the letter, which was seen by Al Jazeera. It was addressed directly to Ratliff and was postmarked on Nov. 3 in Carol Stream, Illinois.

The Columbia Police Department did not immediately respond to an interview request. Ratliff said that police called her on Monday and said the FBI was investigating the case.

Hate mail at the NAACP is not uncommon, Ratliff said, particularly whenever the town’s black community — about 13 percent of its population of about 115,000, according to July 2014 Census statistics — engages in activism. The local NAACP received hate mail last year when local and federal authorities decided not to file charges against Dustin Deacon, a white man, over the death of Brandon Coleman, a 25-year-old black man.

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Where The Girls Are (And Aren’t): #15Girls – John Poole OCTOBER 20, 2015 2:59 PM ET

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict.

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict. LA Johnson/NPR

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict.

LA Johnson/NPR

The world’s girls are healthier than ever. They live longer and more of them are going to school than at any time in history.

This story is part of our #15Girls series, profiling teens around the world. Read the stories here.

But most of them face discrimination simply because they are girls. The discrimination happens at every point in their lives.

In some cases, it starts even before they’re born, when parents decide to abort a pregnancy if the fetus is female.

A good way to get a sense of the progress — and the remaining gaps — in worldwide gender equality is by looking at the data. Numbers can tell a compelling story. The story we’re going to tell focuses on girls ages 10 to 19, an age range used by the World Bank and other groups to track populations. Worldwide, about 600 million girls fall into this age range. Nearly half of them live in just seven countries. Those countries are the focus of our story.

You might expect that there would be an even number of boys and girls in this age group in these seven countries.

But you’d be wrong.

Source: World Bank Population Estimates for 2015 Credit: Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt/NPR

Source: World Bank Population Estimates for 2015
Credit: Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt/NPR

The Missing Girls

Consider the girls who were never born.

On average, about 105 boys are born worldwide for every 100 girls. Girls tend to make up for this difference over time because of their greater resilience and resistance to disease.

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Carving Dicks in Dixie (Extra Scene from ‘Heritage and Hate’) – Vice News Published on Oct 7, 2015

Mississippi’s state flag is the last in the US containing the Confederate battle flag. VICE News and Kal Penn travel to the Magnolia State for a lesson on race relations, barbecue, and the meaning of southern heritage for black and white residents of Mississippi.

In this extra scene, Kal Penn takes a tour of the former home of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America.

In Photos: At the KKK’s South Carolina Confederate Flag Rally –

It’s not just Ahmed Mohamed: anti-Muslim bigotry in America is out of control – Updated by Max Fisher on September 16, 2015, 4:50 p.m. ET

Ninth-grader Ahmed Mohamed being arrested in school. Prajwol/R

The arrest of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who was treated as a threat by his own school and police for bringing in an electronic clock he’d made as an engineering project, was not an isolated event. This was completely in line with a problem that has been growing over the past year: Islamophobia, which is the fear-based hatred of Muslims, is out of control in American society.

To understand why a Texas school would arrest a 14-year-old student for bringing in a homemade clock, it helps to understand what came before: the TV news hosts who declare Muslims “unusually barbaric,” the politicians who gin up fear of Islam, the blockbuster film that depicts even Muslim children as dangerous threats, and the wave of hatred against Muslims that has culminated several times in violence so severe that what happened to Mohamed, while terrible, appears unsurprising and almost normal within the context of ever-worsening American Islamophobia.

Many Americans might be totally unaware this is happening, even though they are surrounded by Islamophobia: on TV, at airport security, in our pop culture and our politics, and inevitably in our schools. Perhaps, then, Mohamed’s arrest will be a wake-up call.

Even just in greater Dallas, 2015 has been a year of Islamophobia

American Islamophobia has grown so severe that, even looking just at the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Mohamed’s Dallas suburb, one can see, in broad daylight, the climate of hostility and fear America’s 2.6 million Muslims have been made to live in.

The trouble began in January, when American Muslim families did what is increasingly expected of them, what American media and politicians demand of Muslims every time there is a terrorist attack: They gathered to formally condemn violent extremism and to cultivate positive ties with their local communities. They did this by organizing an event in the suburb of Garland called “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate,” to raise money for a center dedicated to promoting tolerance.

In response, thousands of protesters mobbed the event, waving anti-Muslim signs and American flags for hours, forcing local Muslim families who attended to endure a gauntlet of hate. “We don’t want them here,” a woman at the protests told a local TV reporter. One man explained, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.” They were not grateful that local Muslim-Americans had taken it upon themselves to combat extremism, but rather outraged that Muslims-Americans would dare to gather publicly at all.

A few weeks later, in early March, an Iraqi man who had just fled the Middle East to join his wife in Dallas stood outside their apartment photographing the first snow he’d ever seen when two men walked up and shot him to death. Police later ruled out the possibility that it had been a hate crime, but the murder drove home the fear among many Muslim-American families that they were unsafe.


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The only good news about the McKinney pool party is the white kids’ response to racism – Updated by Jenée Desmond-Harris on June 9, 2015, 10:40 a.m. ET

In the story of the Texas pool party, where a police officer was caught on tape manhandling and pointing a gun at young black teenagers, there’s a lot to be concerned and outraged about. But there’s also one tiny thing to celebrate: the actions of two white kids.

Just 14 and 15 years old, they wasted no time speaking on the record about the racist comments made by adults that they said set off the incident, and recording the discriminatory treatment they said they witnessed.

Sadly, when it comes to public opinion about the event, it’s likely that these accounts have more weight coming from the white kids than from the black kids who have offered similar stories, but whom many media consumers might see as potential criminals and untrustworthy reporters of what happened.

Their stories shaped the early media narrative of the event, and their sense of responsibility to memorialize what happened should be seen as an example. Many American adults could learn something from their brave decisions to acknowledge rather than avoid or explain away the injustice they saw, but also to make sure the rest of us understood.

The white teens are the reason we’re even hearing about this

Brandon Brooks speaks to a local news station about the video he captured

Brandon Brooks speaks to a local news station about the video he captured

According to BuzzFeed News’s David Mack’s report on the incident, Grace Stone, a white 14-year-old, said when she and her friends responded to white adults’ comments that the black pool party guests should return to “Section 8 [public housing],” the older women became violent.

The police were called, and Brandon Brooks, a white 15-year-old, took out his cellphone to record what happened next — creating a record of the event that he later posted to YouTube, along with this commentary: “So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason. This kind of force is uncalled for especially on children and innocent bystanders.”

“I think a bunch of white parents were angry that a bunch of black kids who don’t live in the neighborhood were in the pool,” he told BuzzFeed. He made it clear that he felt he was spared because of his race, saying, “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic. [The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”

“You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down,” he said in a Monday interview with CW33.

They weren’t alone. Images from protests in McKinney show demonstrators  including a white teen holding a sign that read “White silence = white consent.”

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Obama outlines 6 principles on race in America – By Edward-Isaac Dovere 4/28/15 7:06 PM EDT Updated 4/28/15 11:09 PM EDT

Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

President Barack Obama didn’t want to get misinterpreted on race again.

The president offered not one, not two, but six points on the Baltimore riots — carefully outlined in notes he’d made ahead of a press conference on Tuesday with the Japanese prime minister that was supposed to be focused on trade and the pomp and circumstance of a state visit.

Really, the six points boiled down to one point: “This has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on a long time.”

“If we think that we’re just going to send police to do the dirty work of containment, we’re not going to solve this problem,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden, apologizing to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he went on at length about an issue that’s essentially irrelevant to the Japanese relationship. “We’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflict between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets and everybody will feign concern until it goes away and then we go about our business as usual.”

People only seem to care, Obama said, when there’s a building burning, when cable news takes a break from chasing missing airplanes and goes on riot patrol.

But Obama speaks the way he did about race only during such events, too — as much as people keep turning to the nation’s first African-American president at times like these, he’s spent the last 6 ½ years getting hit no matter what he’s said.

Obama has felt his previous remarks on race have sometimes been misconstrued. In 2009, six months into the job, he said the police acted “stupidly” arresting Henry Louis Gates on his front porch and then had to host a “beer summit” to calm things down. In 2012, after the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin, the White House spent weeks afterward unpacking, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Last year, as Ferguson burned, he was hammered for seeming too deferential to the police, not angry enough, staying on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard instead of flying in on Air Force One to join the marches.

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The Powerful Scene On The Streets Of Baltimore Monday Night That No One Is Talking About by Judd Legum Posted on April 27, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Violent rioting erupted on the streets of Baltimore on Monday, the day that a 25-year-old man who was killed while in police custody, Freddie Gray, was laid to rest. Cars were burned, more than a dozen police were injured and people raided stores across the city.

The Governor of Maryland declared a State Of Emergency, the Mayor of Baltimore imposed a curfew and the Maryland National Gaurd was sent to patrol the streets. But chaos and violence were not the only things happening on the streets of Baltimore.

Hundreds of Baltimore clergy linked arms and took to the streets in an effort to restore the peace. WBAL Reporter Deborah Weiner described the remarkable scene. “These are the church leaders who are putting themselves in harms way to end the violence… they are linked arm-in-arm… one gentleman is in front in a wheelchair.”

“I asked the clergy what they thought of the State of Emergency that the Governor declared,” Weiner said. “They said there has been a State of Emergency way before tonight in Baltimore City, an emergency in poverty, lack of jobs [and] disenfranchisement from the political process.”

In an editorial, The Baltimore Sun called on “the thousands who have already marched in peaceful solidarity with the Gray family’s cause, and the many thousands more who have silently supported them, to take back the movement, to drown out those few who choose chaos over order.”

Two Ferguson police officers resign over racist emails uncovered in federal report – Jon Swaine in New York Friday 6 March 2015 18.26 EST

The second-highest ranking commander in the beleaguered police department of Ferguson, Missouri, was one of two veteran officers to resign on Friday over racist emails uncovered by federal investigators.

 Cornel West (second from right) speaks to Ferguson police captain Rick Henke as clergy confront officers in front of the Ferguson police department in October. Photograph: Robert Cohen/Post-Dispatch/Polaris

Cornel West (second from right) speaks to Ferguson police captain Rick Henke as clergy confront officers in front of the Ferguson police department in October. Photograph: Robert Cohen/Post-Dispatch/Polaris

Captain Rick Henke stepped down from his job together with Sergeant William Mudd, a fellow long-serving officer who was awarded the Medal of Valor more than 20 years ago, a spokesperson for the city confirmed on Friday.

Their departures came as Eric Holder, the US attorney general, said he was prepared to demand the dismantling of Ferguson’s entire police department if required for reforms ordered by his department this week in a scathing report on the city’s criminal justice system.

Speaking to a pool reporter at Andrews air force base in Maryland on Friday, Holder said an “entirely new structure” was needed in Ferguson. Asked whether that included closing the police force, he said: “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.”

The police resignations also followed Wednesday’s firing of Mary Ann Twitty, Ferguson’s municipal court clerk, after she, too, was ensnared in the racist email scandal. Justice Department investigators detailed seven examples of offensive messages they found during searches of tens of thousands of official documents.

Both police officers were involved in policing the months of protests that erupted following the fatal shooting by a white officer of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in August last year.

That unrest prompted Holder to open the inquiry into the in the St Louis suburb’s police and courts system. A second Justice Department inquiry that concluded simultaneously this week decided to bring no federal civil-rights charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.

Mudd, 64, was linked to an email sent in November 2008 which suggested Barack Obama “would not be president for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years?’,” according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the officers’ names.

Henke, 59, was said to have been associated with an email sent in May 2011 that stated: “An African American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers’.”

A woman reached by telephone at Mudd’s home address on Friday evening said: “We have no comment about anything.” Henke could not be reached for comment.

Figures released by Ferguson under open records laws last year stated that Henke, who joined the police force in July 1978, was paid $87,555 a year. This was more than any other officer except Chief Thomas Jackson. Henke was also listed as second in line to Jackson on the police department’s website.

Mudd, who was hired in July 1976, was paid $70,741 a year. He is listed as a 1993 recipient of the Medal of Valor, Missouri’s most prestigious honour for police officers. The medal is awarded for officers showing “exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life”.

Holder said in his remarks on Friday that he had been “surprised by what I found” in the inquiry. “I was shocked towards the end by the numbers that we saw, and the breadth of the practices that we uncovered,” he said.

The attorney general described the impact of the city’s practices as “just appalling”.

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Anti-Islamists Demonstrate in Britain: Hate in Europe – Vice News Published on Mar 4, 2015

Founded in Germany in 2014, the far-right, anti-Islamic movement Pegida — which stands for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West” — has since spread throughout western Europe

On February 28, VICE News traveled to Newcastle in northeast England for the inaugural demonstration of spinoff organization Pegida UK. Demonstration organizers told VICE News that they were mobilizing against the imminent rise of Sharia in Britain — and that they feared a future in which British women were forced to wear burkas on British streets.