Aug 29, 2014

In a rare mea culpa, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that he had mishandled the Ray Rice case, in which the Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended for two games after being accused of assaulting his fiancée.

The suspension was announced late last month to an instant and furious uproar from women’s groups, organizations supporting victims of domestic violence and league players who felt the penalty was too light and inconsistent with punishments for other offenses.

“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” Goodell said in a letter to team owners. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Goodell said that effective immediately any N.F.L. employee — not only a player — who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involved physical force will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense. Second-time offenders will be banished from the league for at least one year.

Goodell said that second-time offenders could petition to be reinstated after one year, but that “there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”

The about-face by Goodell, the most powerful executive in American sports, was stunning in its earnestness and clarity. The commissioner wrote frequently in the first person and admitted that he had lost sight of not only the seriousness of domestic violence, but also the league’s role as a leader in the sports world. Coming a month after the suspension of Rice, Goodell’s decision appeared considered, not rushed.

But it is also one of the few times during his eight-year tenure that Goodell has publicly admitted to making such a mistake. Since becoming commissioner in 2006, he has grappled with one crisis after another, from players using guns to spying by teams to bullying and the use of homophobic and racist language by players. He has rarely backpedaled on his decisions even in the face of withering criticism.

Perhaps most significantly, Goodell has equivocated on the issue of concussions and their impact on the health of players. For years, Goodell and the league dismissed mounting evidence about the dangers of repeated head hits, including in front of members of Congress.

The league has since changed rules and pledged tens of millions of dollars to study the impact of concussions, but the commissioner has never acknowledged the league’s past role in trying to sidestep the issue.

That evasion may cost the league dearly. Frustration over the league’s stance is one reason nearly 5,000 retired players sued the N.F.L. and Riddell, a helmet manufacturer, for hiding from them the dangers of concussions. A federal judge has preliminarily approved a landmark 65-year settlement that would award millions of dollars to players with severe neurological disorders, and spend tens of millions more to monitor other players.

Unlike concussions, which have an impact on the game and the finances of the N.F.L., the league’s stance on domestic violence is not purely a financial issue. While the league has spent years courting female fans by, among other things, having its players wear pink cleats to raise awareness of breast cancer, Goodell also announced his new policy a week before the start of the regular season and ahead of a three-day weekend, when many people are on vacation.

Goodell initially defended the decision to suspend Rice for two games. He said he spoke directly to Rice and noted that he avoided a trial by entering a counseling program. “He is a young man that really understands the mistake he made and he is out and about and determined to make a positive difference,” Goodell said at the beginning of August.

But as blowback continued, he apparently recognized the issue was larger than just Rice. In his 2,000-word letter and memo, Goodell said that his decision was based as much on the obligation of the league to be held to a higher standard than other sports leagues and institutions.

“Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the N.F.L. is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football,” he wrote.

Groups that criticized Goodell for being insensitive to the issue of domestic abuse applauded him for reversing course.

“This decision by N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league’s policy on how it disciplines players who beat their wives and girlfriends is a big win, not just for women, but for all N.F.L. players, staff and fans,” said Becky Bond, the political director of Credo, a women’s rights group.

The N.F.L. Players Association, which has often been at loggerheads with the commissioner over his penalties for players, did not publicly endorse Goodell’s tougher stance. In a statement, the union said only that it was informed of the N.F.L.’s decision and that “if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

While other leagues employ an independent arbitrator to hear player appeals, the N.F.L. is essentially the judge and jury in disciplinary cases not covered by the collective bargaining agreement. This has led many commentators to compare Rice’s suspension over accusations that he assaulted his fiancée in an elevator to the four-game suspensions for players who violated the league’s drug policy.

On Wednesday, the league upheld its one-year suspension of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating its substance-abuse policy. Afterward, Gordon criticized the league for not exercising “better discretion and judgment in my case.”

Still, Gordon’s penalty was based on guidelines agreed on between the league and the players union, not the commissioner. Goodell’s decision to more severely penalize those who commit domestic violence, on the other hand, has set a precedent.

“This is very rare,” said Marc Ganis, a consultant to several teams. “Goodell’s admission of having erred on something this important to society is very rare and speaks volumes about the confidence the N.F.L. has to admit its mistake.”
During the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City in 2011, a decorated Marine sergeant confronted a group of police officers and gave them a lecture at the top of his voice about how they should not be hurting peaceful American protesters.

“Stop hurting these people, man!” shouts Sgt. Shamar Thomas, of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, in a video published to YouTube. “Why are ya’ll doing this to our people? I’ve been to Iraq 14 months, but my people, you come over and you hurt them! They don’t have guns!”

He adds: “How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in this!”

We sure could use a whole lot more Sgt. Shamar Thomas in this country.

It's so interesting how black people love this country so much that we voluntarily fight in her wars, but yet when we come back home we still are treated as second class citizens. One day America is going to have to live up to her promise for all her citizens. Until that day occurs we are continue to have incidents like that which took the life of Michael Brown as well as Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and countless other nameless black women and men.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton broke nearly three weeks of silence Thursday on the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Missouri, saying his death and the violent protests that followed resulted from frayed bonds of trust in a racially divided community.

The remarks by the former secretary of state during a speech to a technology group were her first about Michael Brown’s Aug. 9 death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

As a potential Democratic presidential candidate, Clinton was criticized for waiting so long to talk about the shooting of Brown, who was black, by a white police officer after a midday confrontation on a street.

Clinton lamented the shooting and the numerous tense confrontations that followed between angry protesters and heavily armed police.

“This is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray,” she said. “Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America. We are better than that.”

She said America cannot ignore inequalities in its justice system.

“Imagine if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers, instead of the other way around,” she said, or “if white offenders received prison sentences 10 percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes.”

Clinton noted that higher percentages of black men go to prison compared to white men.

“That is the reality in the lives of so many of our fellow Americans and so many of the communities in which they live,” she said. She said Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for racial equality “is as fiercely urgent today” as it was decades ago.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton was among those who chastised Clinton and other politicians for waiting weeks to discuss the events in Ferguson. Sharpton said Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential GOP presidential candidate, should not “get laryngitis on this issue.”

Aug 25, 2014

(WVEC) --- The Navy has decided to separate Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jessica Sims, a 12-year sailor, for failing to obey an order to cut off her natural hairstyle, according to a Wednesday statement from the chief of naval personnel's office.

Navy officials have decided to separate a 12-year African-American sailor for failing to obey an order to cut off her natural hairstyle.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jessica Sims confirmed to Navy Times that she will be honorably discharged Friday, after refusing to trim her locks, which she had worn most of her time in the Navy. After a delay on her discharge, officials ruled that Sims’ locks were out of regs and that her bun was too bulky to be worn with a gas mask.

“For the past couple weeks, not knowing what the Navy was going to do, if they were going to move forward with the discharge or keep me in, had me in a little limbo,” Sims said in a phone interview Wednesday. “In the back of my head I knew that they weren’t going to change, so it was more of just waiting for the date.”

Chief of Naval Personnel spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello said Sims will be discharged for disobeying a lawful order. Her chain of command at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, ordered her to get her hair within regs earlier this year, soon after she reported in April.

“[Assistant Navy Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan] Garcia and [Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill] Moran have completed their review and are more than satisfied that the chain of command handled this case by the book,” Servello said.

Sims, 32, first spoke to Navy Times Aug. 4, anticipating a discharge the following week. The Navy confirmed her administrative separation proceedings on the basis of her hair, which she has been wearing in small, tightly wound dreadlocks twisted into a bun since 2005.

Sims said that her hair had never been a problem until she checked in at Great Lakes. Before her move to boot camp, she had spent seven years as an instructor at Naval Medicine Training Support Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, and Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

She contended that hair regulations are biased against the natural hairstyles of many African-American women. The Navy’s uniform regulations specifically ban “widely spaced individual hanging locks,” but Sims said that because hers are closely spaced and worn in a bun, they don’t violate the rules.

“I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig,” she said.

The Navy said her chain of command gave her multiple opportunities to cut her hair, but Sims said that amounted to shaving off her locks and wearing a wig. Her discharge came down to disobeying her command’s order to shear off her locks. In addition, Servello said, there were some safety concerns to consider.

“As depicted in the photos that Petty Officer Sims provided, you can clearly see the size of the bun that she wears her hair in is out of regulation,” he said. “Bulky hair makes it difficult to wear headgear and safety equipment like a gas mask, hard hat or firefighting ensemble properly.”

Sims said she always makes sure her bun protrudes less than two inches from her head, per regulation, and that she’d never had a problem wearing safety helmets or gas masks.

Taking a stand
The Navy’s decision comes a week after the Defense Department announced the Navy would be relaxing its hair regulations to allow two-strand twists, as well as multiple, hanging braids that are otherwise in regulation for length.

Sims said the new regs are a step in the right direction, but that the Navy still needs to take a closer look at locks.

“To me, my natural hair is professional,” she said. “It’s all how you keep yourself up. I could just have a regular bun and not take care of that and it could look unprofessional.”

Many Navy Times Facebook commenters agreed that Sims’ hair looked well-kept, though others argued that she failed to obey an order, and that was grounds enough for a discharge.

In the end that’s what it came down to, but Sims said she doesn’t have any regrets.

“I am happy that I took the stand that I did,” she said. “I still stand by it. I would do it again if I had to.”

Sims added that if the Navy wants to ban dreadlocks across the board, then the regulation should say that, rather than explicitly banning “widely spaced individual hanging” locks.

“I won’t be the last one standing up fighting for this issue,” she said. “I have faith in our junior sailors because they are the future of our Navy, and the majority of them were supporting the right thing.”

Sims is scheduled to get her discharge papers on Friday, then start classes at Loyola University of Chicago on Monday, where she plans to major in biology as a pre-med.

“I look at it like this: God only closes one door to open another for greater things, and I am blessed and highly favored,” she said.

Aug 24, 2014

Elon James White, CEO of This Week in Blackness, describes his harrowing experience of getting tear-gassed in Ferguson, Missouri.

Aug 21, 2014

Here's the Open Letter to America:
"Look at us....America has created a monster. The result of ignoring & mishandling an already fragile spirited, recently enslaved, presently oppressed race/generation of people. Look at us. We're the monster that now refuses to be dismissed, overlooked and ignored. We were brought to this place, unaware of our own cultures, religion & traditions therefore, we created our own. Now look at us.

For years we've been crying out for the nation to address the substandard education systems & disparaging treatment of our citizens in communities across America. Our people have had an increasing lack of opportunities for generations. There have been homes broken, lives shattered and futures lost on your watch....unanswered. Look at us. How long can u expect a nation/race/generation of people to be blatantly disrespected? Spoken to and treated with arrogant tones of insignificance. Our fathers, uncles, brothers and role models were killed and imprisoned more often than educated. Now look at us. Our friends and relatives murdered and cast aside without thought, as though your human life is more valuable than ours. How long can that go on without consequence? Now Look at us.

How long can u continue to pass the buck & make excuses of why u can't do today what should have been done yeste-year? Although I DO NOT support the negative responses & actions of my people in light of this tragedy....I WILL NOT condone your lack of effort to show any urgency to improve the treatment of our people, nor the living conditions in our communities. Your refusal to address these life altering issues makes events such as these seem inevitable. Although I too am at fault to a degree and I admit that I may not have all da answers... I do have a fun fact for you. Insanity is...Going about things the same way, expecting a different result. U wanna different result? U must take different action. What else do u expect? Look at us!!!"

Here's the Open Letter to 'His People':

"Look at us. Rebels without a cause. Soldiers without a general. A lost generation. Ready For War. No strategy…no training. Armed only with our grief, aggravation and passionate disdain for our treatment in America. Sick and tired of everything...especially ourselves. We'd rather use the tragedies of our environment as an excuse to act-out, go-off, or turn-up, rather than use our education, talents and future opportunities to get-out, speak-up and make-a-change.

Look at us...Too Enraged to sit around and do nothing. But Too Entrapped in da cycle of vengeance/hostility to do anything WORTH doing. Look at us. So upset with our conditions that we've gone into "F***-it" mode... "F***-the-world" "F**-the-Police" and even "F***" the wishes and requests of a grieving mother, father, family who lost a son...who's memory they would NOT like to see tarnished by OUR negative ACTIONS/DECISIONS. Naaah G, that ain't the code, this ain't da way.

Notice I say, 'Look at US.' Because make no mistake now.... I AM ONE OF YOU!!!! My life experience, execution of talent/opportunity, and use of education are the only things that separate US. I TOO know what it's like to be stereotyped, profiled, and feel hopelessly stuck in unbearable conditions with no signs of prosperity. I’m just as enraged, frustrated and overwhelmed with despair as everyone else. I just refuse to take any action that will contribute to any outcome other than change (for the better).

Look at us. We're giving them every excuse and justifying all action necessary taken against us. We're making it easier for the young black man in America to be just as excusably profiled as a middle-eastern man in an airport (no offense).

When faced with opposition, we must take what our opponent gives us, not fight against them using their strengths. All action taken MUST contribute to a more desired outcome. What I see us doing is just as futile as swinging wildly into the wind, waiting on the air to get tired. One question to MY PEOPLE: What are we changing...Really?

Look at us. Destroying our own community, but continuing to spend money in theirs. Refusing education...revolving in the same cycle of ignorance instead of evolving out of it. I must admit that I TOO am disgusted wit America's treatment. I TOO demand change. But Goddddaaaaamn man.... Look at us!!!!! Although I too am at fault to a degree and I admit that I may not have all da answers... I do have a fun fact for you. Insanity is...Going about things the same way, expecting a different result. U wanna different result? U must take different action. What else do u expect? Look at us!!!"


Aug 20, 2014

One woman with one sign signified what a lot of us are feeling when it comes to what is going on with the ensuing war against Black and Brown bodies.

When France Francois (pictured) held up her sign last week at a vigil in Washington, D.C. she instantly went viral.

Her sign read, "I CANNOT BELIEVE I STILL HAVE TO PROTEST THIS SHIT!! #toomanynames #ferguson #dontshoot #mikebrown."
I'll say this perfectly sums up how I feel about everything that's going on.
I swear I'm falling in love with Jesse Williams.  He has become one of my favorite actors based on the stances he bravely takes against injustice and the impeccable intelligence he displays in smacking down ignorance.
Williams, a graduate from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts, displayed his impeccable intelligence when he place a verbal takedown of one of his Twitter followers who accused him of inciting people.  He gave me all types of life when he wrote the following: 
Please disabuse yourself of the notion that my purpose on earth is to tuck ignorance in at night.

That's why he gets my TWEET OF THE DAY!!!!  Love him!

Aug 19, 2014

Actors like Jesse Williams continue to restore my belief in some of our black entertainers.  Williams is the type of entertainer that is cut from the same cloth that brought us the likes of legendary figures such as Ozzie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Harry Belafonte.  He's the type of black entertainer who is not afraid to speak truth to power.  He is the type that sees an injustice and is not afraid to speak on the injustice unlike most of our other entertainers who have remained remarkably silent except for an occasional social media post.

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Williams took the mainstream media to task for it's choice of narratives when it came to the murder of Mike Brown.

Here is what he said:

“We also have to talk about the narrative and making sure that we’re starting at the beginning. You’ll find that the people doing the oppressing always want to start the narrative at a convenient part, or always want to start the story in the middle. This started with a kid getting shot and killed and left in the street for four hours. I’ve never seen a white body left in the street for four hours in the sweltering heat. The cop doesn’t call in the shooting, the body isn’t put in an ambulance, it’s shuttled away in some shady unmarked SUV.

This idea that because he stole a handful of cheap cigars, what’s that $5? I’ve lived in white suburbs of this country for a long time, I know plenty of white kids who steal stuff from a convenience store. [There's] this idea that every time a black person does something, they automatically become a thug worthy of death when we don’t own drug crimes. We’re not the only ones who sell and do drugs all the time. We’re not the only ones that steal and talk crazy to cops.

There’s a complete double standard and a complete different experience that a certain element of this country has the privilege of being treated like human beings, and the rest of us are not treated like human beings, period. That needs to be discussed, that’s the story. That’s what gets frustrating for people — because you don’t know five black folks, five black men in particular, that have not been harassed and felt threatened by police officers. You can’t throw a rock and find five of them. We’re not making this up.”

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ST. LOUIS, Mo (CBS St. Louis) – It’s been a little over a week since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, causing nationwide protests. Now a Facebook page  in support of Wilson has been created.

The page, “Support Darren Wilson,” has amassed over 28,000 likes in less than 10 days. The about section on the page explains, “This page is a way to show our Support for Officer Darren Wilson! We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly stand up for him!”

One of the links on the page is for a company that is selling a “Support Officer Darren Wilson” t-shirt. On the front of the navy blue shirt, it has a police officer’s badge with the phrase “Officer Darren Wilson, I Stand By You 8-9-14.” The back of the shirt features the phrase “We’ve Got Your 6″ in bold white letters.

According to, the proceeds from the sale of the $18 shirts will go directly to Wilson and his family.

“We appreciate everyone’s support and hope that you are able to wear this shirt with pride knowing you are helping an officer both financially and by spreading our support worldwide,” a statement on noted.

So far, more than 400 t-shirts have been sold. The website lists that the goal is to sell 1,000 t-shirts and less than 8 days remain to meet that goal.

In addition to the t-shirts, a gofundme fundraising campaign has also been launched with a goal to raise $100,000 for Wilson and his family. The account was created Aug. 17 by Allison Wilson and has already raised more than $10,000 from over 280 donations. It isn’t clear if Allison Wilson is related to the police officer.

According to The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the South Carolina-based New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said its Missouri chapter is offering its support and raising money for Wilson.

“We are setting up a reward/fund for the police officer who shot this thug,” the Klan group said in an email to the SPLC. “He is a hero! We need more white cops who are anti-Zog and willing to put Jewish controlled black thugs in their place. Most cops are cowards and do nothing while 90% of interracial crime is black (and non-white) on white.”
A woman who says she witnessed the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown has released video to CNN that shows Brown lying in the street as officers stand by.

The shooting has spawned a week of protests in which demonstrators have demanded an explanation for Brown's killing. Police in Ferguson, Mo., say officer Darren Wilson opened fire because Brown tried to take his gun during an altercation.

Piaget Crenshaw said she has waited until now to release the video because she feared for her safety and was waiting for police to release Wilson's name, which they did Friday. She also said police could have released her video Friday — when they also released surveillance footage that they said showed Brown stealing cigarillos from a convenience store before the shooting. She said police had her video because they confiscated her phone.

She shared her video with CNN's “New Day” the morning after police again fired tear has and rubber bullets on demonstrators, as well as children and reporters. The shooting and protests have raised questions about police targeting young black men, the risks of militarizing local police, and freedom of the press.

“From it all initially happening, I knew this was not right,” Crenshaw told “New Day” anchor Michaela Pereira, explaining why she started recording. “I knew the police shouldn't have even been chasing this young boy and firing at the same time, and the fact that he got shot in his face, it was something that clicked in me, like, somebody else needs to see this.”

Crenshaw said she witnessed Wilson trying unsuccessfully to force Brown into a car. She said they tussled, and Brown was able to get away because he was “a bigger fella.” Brown's escape “seemed to have upset the officer,” who began chasing Brown, she said.

She said she believed Brown was grazed by a shot near his arm, turned, and was then shot multiple times.

A private autopsy conducted at the request of Brown's family and released Sunday indicated that he was shot six times, twice in the head. All of the shots were to his front, and one was at the top of his head, suggesting he was leaning forward when it hit.

Crenshaw did not indicate that she saw Brown try to take Wilson's gun. Brown's alleged attempt to take the weapon has been the Ferguson police department's main justification for the shooting.

Crenshaw said it took her about 30 seconds to run and get her phone, which she used to film Wilson standing over Brown's body. She said she captured footage of Wilson “pacing in disbelief” at what he has done.

“It's like he understands that he just shot this boy in the face and that this boy was unarmed,” she said.

Though police released the surveillance footage at the same time they released Wilson's name, they later conceded that Wilson was unaware when he stopped Brown that he was a robbery suspect. He and a friend were stopped for walking in the middle of the street, police said.

Aug 18, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — An unarmed black teenager killed by a white officer in Missouri was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy has found.

The New York Times reported that the autopsy by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, found that one of the bullets entered the top of Michael Brown’s skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when he suffered a fatal injury.

Baden said it was likely the last of bullets to hit Brown, 18, whose death has spurred a week of rancorous protests in Ferguson, in suburban St. Louis.

Police have said little about the encounter between Brown and the officer, except to say that it involved a scuffle in which the officer was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.

Baden told the Times that Brown was also shot four times in the right arm and that all the bullets were fired into his front. The newspaper said the bullets did not appear to have come from very close range because there was no gunpowder on his body.

That determination could change if there were residue on Brown’s clothing, which Baden did not examine, the newspaper said.

Some of the bullets entered and exited Brown several times, the newspaper said, including one that caused at least five wounds. It said one shattered his right eye, went through his face, left through his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired, the Times said.

Baden told the newspaper Brown would not have survived even if he had been taken to a hospital immediately.

Baden did not return a message left by The Associated Press earlier Sunday.

Earlier Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding his death and a request by Brown’s family.

Aug 15, 2014

After almost a week, Police Chief Thomas Jackson has identified Darren Wilson as the officer who fatally shot unarmed, black teen Michael Brown on Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jackson also announced the department would be releasing video of a strong-armed robbery that took place in the area. He outlined events that took place beginning at 11 a.m. the day of the shooting and offered an account of the incident that implies officers confronted Brown in connection with the robbery.

Although Jackson initially said the name would be released on Tuesday, the police department later announced it would not be releasing the officer's name out of fear for his safety.

Julie Bosman, a correspondent for The New York Times said Wilson is a six-year veteran of the force with no history of disciplinary action.

Aug 12, 2014

(Chicago Tribune) -- W. Hunter, the great grandson of Anna Short Harrington, the woman who became "Aunt Jemima," has filed a class action lawsuit against PepsiCo Inc., its subsidiary Quaker Oats Co., Pinnacle Foods and its onetime suitor, Hillshire Brands Co., on behalf of all of her great grandchildren..

He is seeking $2 billion, plus punitive damages to be determined at trial.

Hunter alleges that the companies conspired to deny that Harrington had been an employee of Quaker Oats, all the while exploiting her image and recipes for profit, while refusing to pay an "equitable fair share of royalties" to her heirs for more than 60 years.

The claims come on the heels of the defendants allegedly receiving a certified death certificate for Harrington that listed Quaker Oats as her employer.

Hunter further alleges that the companies have lied while claiming they could find no employment records for Harrington, or images of her, and yet they had her image deposited inside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the document.

Harrington took on the role of the pre-existing character of Aunt Jemima in 1935. In 1937, the company first registered the trademark for the brand. She was allegedly selected because of her own pancake recipe, which the company recreated for the mass market.

According to the suit, Quaker Oats sought out Harrington's youngest daughter Olivia Hunter in 1989, ultimately using her likeness to update the look of Aunt Jemima. It is this image that is used today on Aunt Jemima-branded products, the suit suggests.

The suit further alleges a racial element to the exploitation of Harrington and the other women who portrayed Aunt Jemima, going so far as to accuse the company of theft in procuring 64 original formulas and 22 menus from Harrington.

It further alleges that Harrington was dissuaded from using a lawyer, exploiting her lack of education and age, so that the company could not pay her a percentage of sales from her recipes.

Chicago-based Quaker continued to use Harrington's image for years, and licensed it out to other companies for ancillary merchandise like mugs and clothing, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit cites Screen Actors Guild residuals and standard policies in the entertainment industry regarding revenue statements, which neither Harrington nor her heirs ever received. It wasn't until they uncovered in 2013 that Quaker Oats had trademarked Harrington's likeness and picture in 1937 that the family determined that they were owed royalties.

The lawsuit alleges that Pinnacle Foods has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Aunt Jemima products. Pinnacle sells Aunt Jemima-branded frozen pancakes, waffles and French toast. Chicago-based Hillshire dropped its bid to buy New Jersey-based Pinnacle earlier this year.

In a statement, Quaker said that while it could not discuss the details of pending litigation, it does not believe there is any merit to this lawsuit.

“People associate The Aunt Jemima Brand with warmth, hospitality and comfort, and we stand by this heritage as well as the ways in which we do business,” the company said.

Pinnacle Foods declined to comment.

The suit was filed on Aug. 5 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Aug 11, 2014

This really must be the season of the biopic.
So far two of my all-time favorites have been pegged for biopics: Whitney and Aaliyah.  I can't say I'm excited about either of the movies.  I mean how excited can you really get about a film of one of your favorite artists when the people who knew these people best i.e. their families have no involvement in the film.  Then you throw up the fact that some of the casting is also very suspect.
Just look at the latest casting for the Aaliyah biopic.  Below are the pics of the two actors that were chosen to play Missy and Timbaland. 
Now, I don't expect the actors to look exactly like their character reference, but damn can you at least make me think you took the casting serious.  I'm going to give you pass on the guy that's been cast to play Tim, but do you really expect me to look at actress Chattrisse Dolabaille and see Missy Elliott?  I hope not.
Are you looking forward to the Aaliyah biopic?  What do you think of the casting choices?