Race & Racism (News)
By Ken A. Epstein
Tosha Alberty, holding back the tears, stood in front of her West Oakland house Tuesday, explaining how she, her chil- dren and grandchildren had been evicted that morning from their home by the Alame- da County Sheriff’s Depart- ment.
“I’m here, standing by the grace of God, doing all I can to keep this home,” said Alber- ty, who was born and raised in West Oakland and had bought the home at the corner of 10th and Willow streets in 2005. “Who are they helping with all the (bank bailout) money?” she asked. ”I need the money. I’m a worker, and I’m trying to raise my children.”
The sheriffs had forced their way into the home at 8 a.m. while Alberty was at work. The children were moved out onto the street, with many of their possessions still inside the home. The locks were changed and the windows boarded up. She has the organized back- ing of Oakland ACORN, as well as help from the offi ce of County Supervisor Keith Carson and City Councilmem- bers Rebecca Kaplan, Desley Brooks and Nancy Nadel.
At the time of this week’s eviction, with the backing of ACORN she had headed off two previous eviction attempts, and she was under the assump- tion that negotiations with the bank were still under way. When Alberty originally purchased the home, she paid $550,000 and had monthly payments of $3,800. Though she was unemployed at the time, a real estate broker ar- ranged a loan and told her that she would be able to refi nance in six months, she said. The family struggled to make their payments. Alberty found a good job – as a union employee working for the county – where she continues to work today. For two years, despite how high the payments were, she paid her mortgage on time and never missed a pay- ment.
Then her payments went up about $1,000 a month more, and she and her family could no longer pay. The mortgage Alberty called the bank to ask for help but was told there was nothing they could do, she said.
Luke Cole, a San Francisco attorney who was one of the pioneers in the field of environmental justice - filing lawsuits for poor plaintiffs or people of color whose communities were being ravaged by corporate polluters - died in a head-on car crash Saturday in Uganda. He was 46.
Mr. Cole and his wife, Nancy Shelby, were on vacation and traveling on a rural road in western Uganda about 7:30 a.m. when "a truck veered to Luke's side of the road," said Mr. Cole's father, Herbert "Skip" Cole.
Mr. Cole died, and his wife was injured. She was flown to Amsterdam, where she underwent an eye operation Monday, Herbert Cole said.
By William Fisher
A federal court has ruled that four men who were tortured and released without charge can sue CACI, the U.S. contractor hired to do interrogation
NEW YORK, Apr 16 (IPS) -- In a ruling that could have widespread implications for government contractors overseas, a federal court has concluded that four former Abu Ghraib detainees, who were tortured and later released without charge, can sue the U.S. military contractor who was involved in conducting prisoner interrogations for the Pentagon in Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998, denied a motion to dismiss the detainees' claims by the contractor, CACI International. The Arlington, Virginia-based company is a major contractor to the Defense Department.
Mainstream media is quick to cover extreme or sensational acts of violence but many youth live with similar threats continually.
Young people from the Bay Area's toughest neighborhoods respond to the recent violent rampage across the nation — 53 murders in the past few weeks — of mostly "random" shooting deaths. But when violence is a part of your everyday existence, what exactly does "random violence" mean?
Editor’s Note: Six million older immigrants live in the United States, a figure projected to triple by 2030. Advocates for these elders have set out to bring their voices –- and new respect for them as community contributors –- to the public and agency decision makers, who often dismiss them as mere clients seeking benefits.
If treated as partners, rather than mere users of public services, immigrant elders can help cash-strapped agencies solve problems in their communities, according to a new report.
A federal magistrate has dismissed a suit by AC Transit riders who accused the Bay Area's transportation funding agency of racial discrimination by steering state and federal money to trains with a relatively higher proportion of affluent white riders and away from buses that carry more poor and nonwhite passengers.
One environmental justice advocate contends that before communities of color go green, they must confront the trauma of white privilege.
Last fall, there was a Slow Food Nation event held in San Francisco. The city's Civic Center was turned into a temporary show-and-tell community garden and vendors sold overpriced organic foods. People spoke on the importance of learning to grow our own food and cook it fresh, leaving the world of microwaves and processed foods behind. At one point, my mom and I walked past a middle-aged white man speaking to a small crowd about meat recipes. He lectured on how they needed to learn to use the entire animal, leaving none to waste. My mom laughed and said to me in Tagalog, "Chinese and Filipino people have been doing that forever. This dude is so ignorant." I laughed, reminding her that all peoples before industrial capitalism used the entire animal or vegetable.
Editor’s Note: The high arrest rate of Latinos in San Jose isn’t limited to public intoxication charges. It turns out that the problem is more systemic. Data obtained from the Department of Justice shows that Latinos and blacks are also disproportionately charged with resisting arrest and other offenses in which police officers have greater discretion. Raj Jayadev is the director of Silicon Valley De-Bug and is a member of the new public intoxication task force in San Jose.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The night she was arrested, Maria Castillo fit the description. A petite, 49-year-old grandmother and home healthcare worker, Castillo is Latina in San Jose – and that ethnicity, in that city, makes her the most likely person statistically to be charged with resisting arrest.
Latinos living in San Jose have a higher risk of being charged with resisting arrest than in any other California city, according to data recently obtained from the state Department of Justice. The data comes on the heals of a major public outcry and subsequent creation of a city-appointed task force over the suspiciously high and racially disproportionate arrest rate for another charge: public intoxication in San Jose.
I first met Castillo at a raucous San Jose City Council meeting focusing on the alarming rates of public intoxication arrests that were first reported in the San Jose Mercury News in October 2008. The numbers showed 4,661 arrests in San Jose in 2007 – an arrest rate higher than any other city in California. When broken down demographically, Latinos and blacks were over-represented in San Jose arrests. In a city where Latinos account for roughly 30 percent of the population, they represented 57 percent of the public intoxication arrests in 2007.
WASHINGTON - Eric Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, said Wednesday the United States was “a nation of cowards” on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding candid discussions of racial issues.
In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said.
Former gangsters help a Bay Area organization use people power to transform communities block by block.
It's 11:30 a.m. on a sunny Monday at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens. On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, United Playaz (UP) is gathering for their annual march for justice and members are out in full force. Vibrantly dressed tweens, skulking teens, young mothers pushing strollers and tough looking 30-something dudes walk toward a meeting spot at the downtown King Memorial Fountain. Young and old alike sport a distinctive black T-shirt or hoodie emblazoned with the letters "UP" and white script that reads: "It Takes the Hood to Save the Hood." For the past 15 years, United Playaz has lived their motto, uplifting communities with people power while transforming thugs into community leaders.