10-20-2019  6:45 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture


GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

Activists are rallying in Ashland Sunday Oct, 13 to demand impeachment proceedings ...

Video shows coach disarming, embracing Oregon student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have released a video that shows part of a former Oregon football star's successful effort to disarm a student who brought a shotgun to a Portland high school.The video released Friday by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office shows Keanon Lowe and...

Parents guilty of starving 5-year-old daughter to death

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Redmond couple of starving their 5-year-old adopted daughter to death.The Bulletin reports by unanimous jury verdicts Friday after a weekslong trial, Sacora Horn-Garcia and Estevan Garcia were found guilty of murder by abuse and criminal...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

No. 22 Missouri heads to Vandy, 1st road trip since opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Missouri coach Barry Odom knows only too well the dangers of going on the road and how a few mistakes can prove very costly.While some of his players my not remember that stunning loss at Wyoming to open this season, Odom hasn't forgotten."We're going to treat it just...


Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...


New Emmett Till marker dedicated to replace vandalized sign

GLENDORA, Miss. (AP) — A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized.The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old black teenager helped spur the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.The...

Parents sue Virginia school district over racist 2017 video

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — The parents of a Virginia student who say their son was assaulted and bullied by his middle school football teammates in an incident captured on video two years ago are suing the school system.The video, which showed football players simulating sex acts on black students...

Team abandons FA Cup qualifier after racial abuse

LONDON (AP) — An FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil was abandoned Saturday when the home team walked off the field after one of its players was racially abused.Haringey, a London-based non-league club, walked off in the 64th minute after claims its Cameroonian goalkeeper...


Adam Lambert: Happy to see more LGBTQ artists find success

NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Lambert, who rose on the music scene as the runner-up on "America Idol" in 2009, says he's happy to see more mainstream LGBTQ artists find major success."I think it's less taboo to be queer in the music industry now because there's so many cases you can point to like,...

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she's returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested Friday...

Naomi Wolf and publisher part ways amid delay of new book

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Wolf and her U.S. publisher have split up amid a dispute over her latest book, "Outrages."Wolf and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced separately Friday that they had "mutually and amicably agreed to part company" and that Houghton would not be releasing "Outrages."...


Where you die can affect your chance of being an organ donor

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Roland Henry had died in a different part of the country, his organs might have been...

Impeachment inquiry puts spotlight on Perry, who shunned it

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long after more flamboyant colleagues flamed out of President Donald Trump's favor amid...

Analysis: Confronted by impeachment, Trump adds to the chaos

WASHINGTON (AP) — The impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump has thrust Washington into a...

Italian experts defuse WWII bomb in northern city

MILAN (AP) — Italian authorities have evacuated 4,000 people from the center of the northern city of...

Bolivians pick between Evo Morales and change in tight vote

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — South America's longest-serving leader was seeking an unprecedented fourth term in...

15 dead after Russian dam collapse floods dormitories

MOSCOW (AP) — At least 15 people are dead after a dam at a small Siberian gold mine collapsed and water...

The Root

(The Root)-- Who is the most privileged among the least privileged? That's the question many are asking as Americans discuss how the Supreme Court treated race-centered cases over the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action versus cases over same-sex marriage. Are African Americans and other people of color, who are the most likely to face voter suppression, winners of the dubious prize of "most oppressed," now that the court has struck down a key provision of one of the most important aspects of the civil rights struggle? And how does that compare to the court's treatment of gays and lesbians, which has seen a progressive sea change over the past 10 years?

Just follow last week's headlines about the court's decisions: "Why the Supreme Court Said 'No to Blacks and Yes to Gays,' " blared an analysis by progressive Rabbi Michael Lerner. "Gay Is the New Black," stated the overblown headline atop a nuanced New York Times article by Georgetown University law professor Paul Butler. At every turn, there seemed to be a blunt-force reaction to the court's landmark decisions, setting up the civil rights of gays and blacks as if it were a battle of winners versus losers.

But such headlines ignore the nuances within each group's civil rights struggle. Indeed, Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer, author of the new book The Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream, calls comparing the court's decisions not just apples and oranges but "apples and steak" -- that is, possible to compare but highly differentiated.

America was founded with a national framework of racial segregation and exploitation. "All men are created equal" did not include black Americans, male or female. For better or worse, the concept of gay rights (or even gay existence) was not baked into our national framework. Indeed, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights struggle has been based upon the groundbreaking work of racial civil rights movements.

For sure, the fight for gay rights has its own unique history: Their battles are much more recent, and the legal strategies for LGBT rights have moved toward a more state-by-state framework that interacts with federal judicial decisions, versus the civil rights movement's reliance on the federal government to protect rights that states would not. For the moment, with the current Supreme Court, that strategy seems to be working more quickly than a federal action-based rights strategy.

Indeed, the knee-jerk analysis missed all of the texture of each group's history, as well as the intersecting identities of those who are black and gay. Pam Spaulding, editor of the award-winning blog Pam's House Blend, is a black woman legally married to her wife. After Barack Obama was elected in 2008, at the same time that the anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition 8 passed in California, Spaulding recalls, "Vitriol was hurled at blacks that evening, and I recall on the Blend being on the receiving end of angry commenters -- as if I had burned my 'gay card,' as my blackness, which clearly was not invisible to them before, was now a threat."

I interviewed a Los Angeles-based black lesbian activist, Jasmyne Cannick, right after election 2008. She said, "The reason why I wasn't inspired to work on Prop 8 was because that glass ceiling that the white gays are bumping their head up against is to a room that as a black person, I haven't even got a foot in the door of. I'm just trying to put food on the table."

And Stephen Winter, who identifies as a "black biracial queer," told The Root, "My reaction to the decisions was numb rage turned to grief turned to fiery rage. This was, indeed, a great day for DOMA [the Supreme Court's overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act], and a total s--t week for the country. First they come for our right to vote, then they will come for yours. You'll be happily married and completely disenfranchised. This week I saw a glimpse of what could be. As a result, I joined the NAACP for the first time."

Urvashi Vaid, author of Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics, reminds us that people of color and LGBT Americans not only overlap but also have much in common when it comes to their civil rights. "First, it's imperative to be vigilant because laws you thought were settled can be rolled back in a very short amount of time [e.g voting rights, reproductive rights]," she told The Root. "Second, the defeat of voting rights and the remand on affirmative action makes clear that the court is an agent of the Republican Party, which cannot win with its current politics in a majority-people of color country, and so has to resort to dirty tricks, voter suppression and wholesale denial of voting rights to large parts of the population.

"The Supreme Court did us a favor because it made this less visible reality extremely visible -- as states now pass extremely restrictive laws -- so setbacks can be really good educational and organizing moments. This is one."

So the question remains: What will happen to the fights for equality in America, particularly over racial equality and/versus equality based on sexual orientation? The Supreme Court is framed as a nonpartisan branch of government, but justices are appointed by presidents, each of whom has a partisan affiliation. And of course, race -- and which races vote for which parties -- influences who the president is and who he (or, in the future, perhaps, she) chooses. In this past election, for the first time ever, the percentage of African Americans who voted exceeded that of whites. And in addition, Latino voters were much more likely to pull the Democratic lever for president than they were during the Bush years.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund lawyer Natasha Korgaonkar lays out some ways to draw relationships between the issues the court decided. "The marriage decisions are a very significant and important victory for equal protection. What these cases and issues share is that they're about equality, equality for everyone, regardless of who you are. That's a relationship I see between the two issues."

She continues, "People need to have an unencumbered right to vote in all states -- not only because the right to vote is enshrined in our constitution but because it's through that right we can make significant gains on all issues, including marriage equality." Korgaonkar calls on Congress to take action, as it did when it reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 under President George W. Bush. But it's far from a sure thing that this riven Congress will pass a bipartisan voting-rights measure amid the sequester and general legislative gridlock.

In other words, the final act of the drama of American equality has yet to be written. With immigration, gender, sexual orientation and race all in play -- on the streets and in the courts -- it's hard but critical work to put the pieces of the political puzzle together. So, returning to the question of the day, is gay the new black? The best answer seems to be: That's apples and steak, isn't it?

Farai Chideya is a distinguished writer in residence at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Institute for Journalism. A contributing editor at The Root, she is the author of four books and blogs at farai.com.

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