May 2016: African American News, Highlights, and Mentions

Chesler found that 70 percent of fathers who fight for custody win, regardless of the father’s character or even if he’s an active part of the child’s life. The perception of mothers who retain custody of their children is flawed. They don’t all have their children because the courts decided that they were the better parent, but rather, the fathers didn’t fight for custody. So when a father does fight for custody, male patriarchal privilege rears its ugly head. He’s rewarded for being the rare unicorn that wants to raise his child so much that he goes to court. – Phyllis Chesler

  • Faces of misogyny: Custody battles and ‘baby mamas’ –  “For more than 5,000 years, men (fathers) were legally entitled to sole custody of their children. Women (mothers) were obliged to bear, to rear, and economically support children. Mothers were never legally entitled to custody of their own children.” In other words, the men losing the battles against bitter “baby mamas” have been lazy, miseducated, or not really interested in being a father anyway.



Anita Hill is a powerful role model for having the courage and the integrity to step up and speak the truth, for her calm dignity in holding to her truth in the face of vicious attacks and for her steadfastness in dedicating her life to teaching, mentoring, educating and enlightening young people in the tenets of social justice.” – Sherrie Spendlove

  • Places to See in Philly: The Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls. This museum initiates the ordinary” object—submitted by the colored girl herself, as representative of an aspect of her story and personal history, which she finds meaningful; her object embodies her experience and expression of being a Colored Girl. The Colored Girls Museum is headquartered in the historic neighborhood of Germantown in Philadelphia, an area renowned for its compliment of historic buildings and homes.
  • A Teacher Intervention Program Can Help to Reduce School Suspensions – A new study by three psychologists at Stanford University in California finds that an effort that encourages middle school teachers to assume an “empathic mindset” when it comes to school discipline can reduce the number of suspension in half. The lead author of the study, Jason A. Okonofua is a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Stanford. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and earned a Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford.  Link to study:
  • A Judge Overturned a Death Sentence Because the Prosecutor Compared a Black Defendant to King Kong: The South Carolina prosecutor is known as ‘Death Penalty Donnie.’  Myers, also known as “Doctor Death” and “Death Penalty Donnie,” sent 28 people to death row in South Carolina during his decades as the state’s most flamboyant prosecutor. In doing so he earned public praise and the scorn of countless defense attorneys whose clients endured Myers’ courtroom theatrics. Once, grieving the death of his own son in 2003, Myers pressed for the death penalty against Robert Northcutt, who had confessed to killing his 4-year-old daughter because she wouldn’t stop crying.
  • Book Recommendation:  African Americans and Homeschooling: Motivations, Opportunities, and Challenges. New York, Routledge, 2014, 144 pp., ISBN: 978-1-138-80732-7 – Mazama and Musumunu provide a comprehensive, wide-ranging and detailed account of the use of formal education to disenfranchise African Americans throughout U.S. history, as well as the struggles waged by African Americans to obtain access to formal education. They convincingly argue that education has been a contentious arena for Black people in the United States since the beginning, and that it continues to be so.
  • Raised Fists by Black Women at West Point Deemed Not to Be a Political Protest – West Point officials maintain that the Black women did not violate any academy, Army, or Defense Department regulations. After an investigation, the academy stated that the raised fist gesture was intended to show unity and pride and was not meant as a political statement, which would have violated a Department of Defense directive.


  • Book Recommendation for Kids: MACHINE CLOSET: THE GOLD KING by Toni Settles – Follow Andrew on his adventures as he time-travels to ancient Mali and meets the richest man and king to ever live, Mansa Musa. Your child will go on a fun but informative journey, where they will learn alongside Andrew, learn lessons about unity and working together. In this edition of the book, Andrew is given the title of “Griot” an esteem West African title given to a storyteller.
  • How Racist is Too Racist? Take our quiz on juror bias. The U.S. Supreme Court just agreed to hear the case of Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, a Colorado man who argued the jury that convicted him of misdemeanor sexual offenses in 2007 was tainted by bias. During deliberations, a juror confided to others that he knew the defendant was guilty “because he is Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.” The juror, an ex-law enforcement officer, also said that based on his experience, “nine times out of 10, Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women” and suggested that an alibi witness was not credible because he was “an illegal.” The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the conviction last year, ruling that statements made during jury deliberations are confidential.
  • Black Women College Students and the Stigma of HIV – New research from scholars at North Carolina State University and Pennsylvania State University found that African American women college students were reluctant to use online sites related to HIV prevention because they feared their social network may become aware they were accessing HIV-related materials.  Link to Study:
  • Places to See: The National Museum of African Art is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum was founded as a small museum on Capitol Hill in 1964 became a part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1979, and in 1987 it moved to its current location on the National Mall. The museum’s collection of over 12,000 objects represents nearly every area of the continent of Africa and contains a variety of media and art forms.  They also have teacher resources available to download for classrooms around the world:
  • Anita Hill, the University Professor of Law in the Heller Graduate School of Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, has been selected as the 10th recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy, and Tolerance. The honor, awarded by the University of California, Merced, comes with a $10,000 prize.  Anita Hill’s public testimony during the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991 raised national awareness of sexual harassment and led to many changes in workplace laws and practices to protect both women and men from harassment.
  • Book Recommendation:  Are All the Women Still White?: Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms (Suny Series in Feminist Criticism and Theory) – The contributors here reflect on transnational issues as diverse as intimate partner violence, the prison industrial complex, social media, inclusive pedagogies, transgender identities, and (post) digital futures. This volume provides scholars, activists, and students with critical tools that can help them decenter whiteness and other power structures while repositioning marginalized groups at the center of analysis.”
  • Hashtag #RapedbyMorehouse and #RapedatSpelman were lighting up Twitter and Facebook for the recent rapes/sexual assaults that happened on the campuses over the past year and how the silence of the community reflects rape culture all over again.  These women need a voice and this needs to stop.
#RapedatSpelman Victim Statement
  • Martin Sostre And The Fight Against Solitary Confinement  Martin Sostre, one of the most important figures issuing early challenges to the use of solitary confinement, who was once mentioned in the same breath as Davis, Assata Shakur, Ruchell Magee, and other political prisoners in the early 1970s, has been largely lost to history.  Sostre opened an Afro-Asian Bookstore in Buffalo, New York while working at Bethlehem Steel. The bookstore exposed neighborhood youth to the writings and speeches of Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X, and Chairman Mau. Like Eldridge Cleaver and many other Muslim prisoners, Sostre left the Nation of Islam after Malcolm X split with the NOI and was assassinated the following year. In 1967, following a summer of civil disorder and amidst the larger context of black uprisings in Watts, Newark, and Detroit, police raided Sostre’s bookstore and charged him with narcotics possession, arson, and assault.

  • #Lemonade: A Black Feminist Resource List – Here you’ll find a list of resources already curated or being curated by other black women, including the magnificent #LemonadeSyllabus. You’ll also find a list of ingredients–so you know what you are sippin.’ Who was that young woman masking as a Mardi Gras Indian? Who were the women on the front porch? What was that beat she sampled?
Warsan Shire
  • Honorable Mention – Warsan Shire:  I have been following her poetry for a while now and I’m glad to see that others are getting to notice her as well.  Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. Born in 1988, she has read her work internationally, more recently in South Africa, Italy and Germany. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing. The artist and activist uses her work to document stories of journey and trauma. She curates and teaches workshops around the art of healing through narrative.


  • 13 Important Questions About Criminal Justice We Can’t Answer And the government can’t either.  The excuses for why we don’t have better data about our police, our courts and our prisons may sound familiar to anyone who has worked in corporate America: there isn’t enough money to hire analysts; the IT department says it can’t be done; the chief is moving on to another department. Local autonomy has not been helpful for good criminal justice data. The fraction of the country’s 18,000 police departments that do collect figures on officers’ use of force have no consistent definition of what constitutes force.



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