The recession has compounded a decades-long problem for black workers, who began the downturn facing a far higher jobless rate than the general population and have fared worse since.
Now experts are worried that many blacks will remain in crisis even as the economy begins to recover, largely because the recession has eliminated so many working-class jobs in sectors like manufacturing and retail that are likely to come back slowly, if at all."Across the board right now the job prospects are slim, but for blacks even more so than average," said Algernon Austin, director of the program on race, ethnicity and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that focuses on issues affecting lower to middle-income workers.Tariq Mustafa can relate. Mustafa, 30, has been looking for work since March, when he completed a temporary retail job after he was laid off from a hotel position. He estimates he has filed 100 online job applications as well as spending months pounding the pavement and visiting potential employers in person.
He said he occasionally feels that race plays a role in his inability to get a job, especially in this tight job market.
"Sometimes you come in and you ask for an application, and you know they're hiring because it was on the Internet, and they'll say, you know, 'No, we're not hiring,' " he said. "It's just, it's that vibe, just how people treat you."
The numbers illustrate the sheer depth of the problem black workers are facing. For all the gains that black workers have made over the past 20 years, everywhere from corporate boardrooms to the White House, there remains a persistent gap between black and white unemployment rates.
Since the recession began in December 2007, the national unemployment rate has gone from 4.9 percent to 10.2 percent, while the the black unemployment rate has jumped from 8.9 percent to 15.7 percent, according to government figures.
In addition, blacks have been more likely to drop out of the labor force altogether as many have become so discouraged about job prospects that they have stopped looking for work.
The labor force participation rate for blacks has fallen from 63.4 percent of adults in December 2007 to 61.7 percent as of October. The overall labor force participation rate in the same period has fallen from 66 percent to 65.1 percent, the lowest level since 1986.
Black workers also are likely to take longer to find a new job. In 2008 blacks made up 19.3 percent of the total unemployed population but represented 25.4 percent of the people who had been unemployed for six months or longer, according to the National Employment Law Project.
In good times and bad, blacks face harsher employment prospects for many reasons, including a higher likelihood of past incarceration or homelessness, and less access to a network of friends and relatives who might have job leads. Discrimination, while less overt than in years past, still plays a role, experts say.
"The American labor market is less friendly to black workers than to white workers, and it has been for all of U.S. history," Austin said.
Serena Williams was fined at least a record $82,500 for her U.S. Open tirade and could be suspended from that tournament if she has another "major offense" at any Grand Slam in the next two years, Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock told The Associated Press on Monday.
Babcock's decision was to be formally released later Monday.
He said Williams faces a "probationary period" at Grand Slam tournaments in 2010 and 2011.
If she has another "major offense" at a major championship in that time, the fine would increase to $175,000 and she would be barred from the following U.S. Open.
Babcock said the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offense was about $48,000 to Jeff Tarango in the 1990s.
Williams lashed out at a lineswoman after a foot-fault call at the end of her U.S. Open semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.
Williams earned $350,000 by reaching the semifinals, part of her more than $6.5 million in prize money in 2009, a single-season record for women's tennis. Her career prize money tops $28 million.
The American is an 11-time Grand Slam singles champion and ended the 2009 season at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
Williams' profanity-laced, finger-pointing outburst drew a $10,000 fine from the U.S. Tennis Association in September — the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face. But because it happened at a Grand Slam tournament, Babcock was charged with investigating whether further punishment was merited.
He concluded that Williams violated the "major offense" rule for "aggravated behavior." The Grand Slam committee — with one representative from each of the sport's four major championships — approved his decision Saturday.
Babcock said Williams has been informed of the ruling. She has been in Barbados for an exhibition tournament, and her agent did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday. source
PHILADELPHIA – Police are searching for a man they say beat and raped a blind woman in her home.
Authorities say the 50-year-old victim was walking toward the front door of her home in the city's Mayfair section on Sunday afternoon when the attacker approached her from behind.
The woman was pushed inside her home, beaten and raped. She has been hospitalized with injuries.
Police did not know how long the attack lasted but sent a SWAT team to the home about 5 p.m. because the victim was unsure whether the man had left.
Detectives say the woman's home was ransacked and they're investigating whether more than one attacker was involved. source
A suspect in the coffee-shop slayings of four officers is holed up at a Seattle house, wounded and possibly dead, police said Monday.
Authorities have been seeking Clemmons in the deaths of four Lakewood police officers gunned down in a Parkland coffee shop on Sunday morning. They believe the gunman may have been wounded by one of the victims.
Late Sunday, they began to focus on the Seattle house, about 30 miles from the crime scene.
Negotiators used loudspeakers and explosions to try to prod Clemmons from hiding. Later, gunshots rang through the neighborhood.
Officers surrounding the house shone lights on the house and called out to Clemmons by name, saying: "Mr. Clemmons, I'd like to get you out of there safely. I can tell you this, we are not going away."
Any response from inside the house was inaudible from the vantage of a photographer for The Associated Press. But shortly thereafter, police began using sirens outside the house, and there were several loud bangs before the negotiator resumed speaking.
"This is one of the toughest decisions you'll make in your life, but you need to man up."
"We're not going to give you a blow-by-blow," Kappel said.
A few minutes later, more bangs were followed by the sound of breaking glass and then a louder explosion. Later still, gunshots rang out through the dark. Deliberately paced and widely spaced, the shots appeared to be aimed at the house by surrounding police.
Clemmons, who had a lengthy prison sentence commuted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee nearly a decade ago, became the prime target Sunday in the search for the killer of Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; and Officers Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards 42.
Clemmons is believed to have been in the area around the time of the shooting, but Troyer declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting.
Tiger Woods cancelled a third scheduled interview with Florida police in the wake of crashing his SUV early Friday, an incident that has generated questions about whether or not an earlier domestic dispute played a role.
According to TMZ.com, Woods' lawyer canceled the meeting the Florida Highway Patrol had wanted for 3 p.m. ET Sunday. But he has since broken his silence and released a statement on his Web site addressing the controversy.
"This situation is my fault and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again," Woods wrote in the statement, posted about an hour before troops were to meet with him at his home. A meeting was not rescheduled.
"This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way," he added. "Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible."
Authorities are reportedly interested in viewing the wounds on Tiger's face to see if they were caused by the accident or during a domestic dispute with his wife, TMZ reported.
Addressing this part of the rumors, Tiger wrote on his Web site: "The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.
"This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."
Two days before Tiger crashed his vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree near his mansion in Windermere, Fla, the National Enquirer reported that the golf star had cheated on his wife Elin Nordegren with another model, New York club hostess Rachel Uchitel, while he was in Australia for a tournament.
According to TMZ, Tiger told a friend on the phone Friday that his wife had scratched his face during an argument over the Enquirer story. According to the friend, Tiger said, "I have to run to Zales to get a 'Kobe Special.'" The person on the other end of the phone asked Tiger what a "Kobe Special" was. The reply -- "A house on a finger."
During the conversation, Tiger said his wife had "gone ghetto" on him.
In the released 911 call made after Tiger's accident, the caller, a male, can be heard telling dispatchers, "I need an ambulance immediately, I have someone down outside my house ... It's a car accident ... My neighbor, he hit the tree. I see him and he's laying down."
When the dispatcher asked if the person was unconscious, the neighbor responded, "Yes."
TMZ is reporting that the Florida Highway Patrol is now focusing on obtaining a search warrant -- allowing them to seize medical records from the hospital that treated Woods -- in an attempt to determine if the wounds he sustained are consistent with a car accident or domestic violence. source
ABC's Robin Roberts will interview Chris Brown for "20/20," a move that has caused outrage among activists who still question the network's decision to drop Adam Lambert from "Good Morning America" in the wake of his gay kiss on the "American Music Awards."
The "20/20" interview, taped last weekend and scheduled to air on Dec. 11, is being billed as an in-depth discussion about Brown's assault of ex-girlfriend and recording superstar Rihanna in February. He is on probation for the beating. source
Oprah Winfrey will spend at least part of the holidays back at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. filming a primetime special that features an interview with the first couple as its centerpiece.
The network has announced that it will air "Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special" on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 10 p.m.
The special, marking the first time Winfrey has interviewed Obama since he took office, will also go behind the scenes as staffers prepare the White House for the holiday season. source
Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal paid for the funeral of a five-year-old North Carolina girl after being moved by national news coverage of the case of Shaniya Davis, who police say was kidnapped and killed.
The Cleveland Cavaliers player was touched by the stories he saw and got in touch with the family to see what he could do to help, a spokeswoman for O'Neal said Thursday.
More than 2,000 people attended the girl's funeral Sunday. Her body was found Nov. 16 beside a rural road.
Her mother, Antionette Davis, who had reported the child missing six days earlier, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Mario McNeill is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case.
"I was sitting at home watching it on the news and the story brought a tear to my eye," O'Neal told The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Corey Breece, of Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, which handled the service, declined to tell the Fayetteville Observer newspaper how much it cost but added that a child's funeral "averages around $4,500."
A man who answered the phone at the funeral home Thursday told the AP that only the owner could comment and that he was away.
Shaniya Davis' father, Bradley Lockhart, and his family had set up a trust fund in memory of Shaniya to help raise money to pay for the funeral. Lockhart was not available to talk Thursday, said a man who answered the phone at his home. source
Michelle Obama has kicked aside controversy over her expensive French sports shoes and ordered thigh-high luxury boots from the same country, her new shoemaker said Tuesday.
Robert Clergerie said the US first lady had chosen a black pair with flat heels as well as another pair of calf-length boots in soft beige buckskin, both in size 41 (US size nine-and-a-half, British size seven).
The order was sent in by a retailer in the Obamas' hometown Chicago after Michelle could not find the exact style she wanted. One of the pairs was modified slightly from the catalogue model at her request.
In April, Obama attracted a flurry of comment after she wore a fashionable 540-dollar (360-euro) pair of Lanvin trainers (sneakers) when she handed out food to the poor at a Washington food bank.
Clergerie -- who included a small note to the first lady with the order -- is one of the few remaining great shoemakers in Romans-sur-Isere, a small town in southwest France that has been renowned for its shoes for centuries.
He has previously made footwear for Madonna, Bianca Jagger and French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. source
Someone made off with loot from a Georgia church but also left behind an apology.
A note scrawled on the wall said: "Sorry but I'm poor. Forgive me Lord."
The Rev. Roger Davis tells WSB-TV that expensive equipment including microphones and a laptop containing important records were stolen over the weekend from Berean Baptist Church. The robber broke locks and the church's safe, but it was empty.
It was the fourth time the church in Ellenwood, southeast of Atlanta, has been robbed in two years.
Davis joked he's considering putting up a note of his own telling potential robbers to call him instead and the church will take up a collection for them.
Confronted with the return of an offensive image of First Lady Michelle Obama to the top of its image search engine, Google is now using some of its own ad space to offer an explanation on how its results are determined.
Search Engine Land reported that Google first dealt with the image last week, when the company removed it saying that the Web site hosting the picture was a conduit for malware. But the image is back and ranking high, this time hosted in a different Web site. The fact that it hasn't been taken down suggests that this time the Web site is not in violation of Google's removal policies.
Stuck again with an unpleasant situation, the Mountain View-company wants to wash its hands and, to do so, it is using a valuable piece of its online real estate space to tell users that "sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree."
"The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results," the company wrote.
"[...] Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it."
MONROEVILLE, Ala. — A 14-year-old Alabama girl might have helped arrange the gang rape of her ninth-grade classmate and could face charges as an accomplice based on her comments in a televised interview, a district attorney said.The girl told reporters last week that she and her 14-year-old classmate had planned to have sex with the suspects who have been charged with rape. The girl under investigation is dating one of the three suspects who are 16, 17 and 20 years old.
"The victim told police that the attack did begin as consensual contact," Monroe County District Attorney Tommy Chapman told the Press-Register of Mobile for a Monday story. "But when all three suspects began to join in, she told them no repeatedly, but they did not stop."
Authorities said thegirl required surgery after the Nov. 16 attack and was in intensive care for three days.
"I am exceedingly angry, and you can quote me on that," Chapman said.
Calls to Chapman's office by The Associated Press Monday were not immediately returned.
Police took the girl who may be charged into custody on Chapman's orders Friday and she was later released.
Investigators said the fellow ninth-graders left Monroe County High School with Steven Scott, 20, DeShon Riley, 16, and Justin Williams, 17, before the start of classes the day of the attack.
Investigators said that the three took turns assaulting one of the girls at a home. The other girl claimed that they attempted to rape her, but that no intercourse occurred. A medical examination indicated that the girl had sex.
The men then took the classmates back to school where the injured girl sat in bloody clothes for hours until school officials called police, investigators said.
Monroeville Police Chief Rudolph Munnerlyn said that interviews with the girls were continuing in what he called a "shocking crime" in the town about halfway between Mobile and Montgomery. Calls by AP to police were not returned.
The three suspects were jailed last week and charged with felony rape. Bail was set at $500,000. A jail employee would not say if they were still jailed Monday and it was unknown if any had lawyers.
When it comes to the policies and politics of Barack Obama, it's no secret that liberals and conservatives don't see eye to eye. But according to behavioral sciencist Eugene Caruso of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, these differences in perspective may literally be a difference in perception. In a new study, Caruso and colleagues Emily Balcetis of New York University and Nicole Mead of Tillberg University asked a group of undergraduates which of a series of photographs of Obama--some of them secretly lightened and darkened--best represented who he is as a person. The results were striking: while self-described liberals tended to pick the digitally lightened photos of the president, self-described conservative students more frequently picked the darkened images. The more one agrees with a politician, in other words, the lighter his skin tone seems; the less you agree, the darker it becomes. To discuss how political affinities influence perception--and how politicians and the press could take advantage of these findings--NEWSWEEK's Andrew Romano spoke to Caruso.How did the study actually work?
Essentially we were interested in whether political party influences how people literally see the world, and how they may see different depictions of candidates as representative of who they really are. So to test this we gathered up a bunch of photos of Barack Obama and digitally altered them to create a version where his skin tone appeared a bit lighter and a version where his skin tone was a bit darker than it appeared in the original photograph. And then we just showed people several different photos and asked them to rate each one on how much they represented who he really is. What we found was that participants who told us that they had a liberal political orientation rated the lightened photographs as more representative of Obama than the darkened photographs, whereas participants who told us they had a more conservative ideology rated the darkened photographs as more representative of Obama than the lightened ones.So how much of a difference between self-identified liberals and self-identified conservatives did you find in the results?
It's a little bit hard to quantify the difference because they were just rating on a 7-point scale of representativeness. So to make it a bit more concrete we looked, for each participant, at which photo they rated as the most representative. They gave us three different ratings—say 1, 4 and 6—and we picked the photo that they gave the highest number to. From there we saw that liberals were about five times as likely to rate a lightened version of Obama as the most representative compared to a darkened version, whereas conservatives were about twice as likely to rate a darkened version as most representative compared to the lightened version.
I'm no expert here, but you're confident that it's the skin tone that changes "representativeness" in the eyes of the voter, as opposed to something else about the photographs—like pose, or background, or facial expression?
That's a great question. What we did was essentially take three different photos with three different poses, and created for each photo a lightened and a darkened version. And then we randomly selected the combination of pose and skin tone that we showed each participant.
But isn't there a chicken or egg relationship here? Do conservatives see Obama as darker and are thus prone to dislike him, or do they dislike him first and then see him as darker because of it?
That's a great question. One of the things we're trying to do now is experimentally try to tease those two options apart. Basically, what we have in our current paper, the one that's out now, is correlational studies of Obama where we don't really know what comes first or what's causing what. The first study in the paper tries to address part of what you're asking. If we get people to think about a novel candidate and simply manipulate whether they agree with a candidate or not, we can show that people who think this novel biracial candidate agrees with them later report that the lightened photos are more representative of him, suggesting that if you agree with someone then you may come to see him as lighter. From that we can speculate, exactly as you have, about the reverse path—and that is, seeing images of someone when his or her skin tone looks darker may cause people to like that person less than seeing images of that person with lighter skin tone.
These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother's one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment.
Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions — 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. And last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in the District, home to many young black men, rose to 11.9 percent from 11.4 percent, even as it stayed relatively stable in Virginia and Maryland.
His work history, Spriggs says, has consisted of dead-end jobs. About a year ago, he lost his job moving office furniture, and he hasn't been able to find steady work since. This summer he completed a construction apprenticeship program, he says, seeking a career so he could avoid repeating the mistake of selling drugs to support his 3-year-old daughter. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary flagger job that lasted a few days.
Last hired, first fired
Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in Spriggs's age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy, with cost-conscious employers wiping out the very apprenticeship, internship and on-the-job-training programs that for generations gave young people a leg up in the work world or a second chance when they made mistakes. Moreover, this generation is being elbowed out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to put food on the table.
The jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5 percent. For young blacks — who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination — race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education. Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.
Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent.
The Rev. Al Sharpton stood on the porch of his headquarters in West Atlanta, decrying community violence and crime -- something he said too often is done by blacks against another blacks."We must be outraged when people who look like us, live with us and claim to be us, kill us," said Sharpton, who was accompanied by ministers, Nation of Islam organizers and Yamma Brown, an activist and daughter of Sharpton's mentor, the late James Brown.
People gathered in Atlanta and more than 20 other U.S. cities Monday as part of the National Day of Outrage, a nationwide call to end violence in urban communities. The events were spearheaded by Sharpton's National Action Network, a civil rights organization, and community leaders.
Elsewhere, about 30 people gathered in the Fountain Park neighborhood of St. Louis -- a community they say has been broken by parental neglect, drugs, unemployment and escalating violence.
Fountain Park was once a proud, upper middle-class, African-American neighborhood that began to decline in the 1960s, the AP said.
Now, "every night, every day, there's a killing, a shooting, a lot of nonsensical violence," longtime resident and community organizer Anna Nicholas, 60, said. "There's no parenting in the home. These children know no other route of getting attention."
In West Atlanta, Sharpton called thugs "a disgrace and a shame to the community." And he blamed civil rights leaders like himself for failing to rein in violence.
Nearby, youths held signs urging peace as drivers honked their horns.
Sharpton called for town hall meetings in each of the cities that were participating in Monday's event.
"None of us have done enough," he said. source
An impromptu memorial of artificial flowers and dozens of stuffed animals remained Monday near strands of yellow crime-scene tape in a vacant lot where relatives say 15-year-old Jamar Pinkney Jr.'s father shot him in the head while he begged for mercy.
The lot is next to the two-story brick home where Jamar lived with his mother in the impoverished Detroit enclave of Highland Park, a once-prosperous city of 16,000, where decay, abandonment, fires and demolition have eaten away at the community.
Around the neighborhood, Jamar was remembered as a humble and generous boy who grew up tossing the football and worried about keep his grades up. Since his death a week ago, friends, family and the community have struggled with making sense of his slaying and his father's arrest.
Relatives say Jamar's father, Jamar Pinkney Sr., was irate over allegations that his son had sexual contact with a 3-year-old girl and made him strip at gunpoint, marched him to the lot and shot him as he begged for his life. Prosecutors have charged him with first-degree murder and jailed him without bond.
Police say the sexual misconduct accusation isn't part of the their investigation, and for many who knew Jamar, that allegation hasn't tempered the grief and outrage that another young life has been cut short.
"Most people feel that no 15-year-old, no matter what the circumstances or no matter had transpired, was deserving of this kind of fate," said Bishop Edgar L. Vann II, who delivered the eulogy before about 1,600 people gathered for Jamar's funeral on Monday at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit.
Jamar's family said he was known for his entertaining personality and selfless kindness. He had competed as a wrestler since age four and played football since he was six.
"He was generous, he was kind," said Deborah Jenkins, principal of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit, where Jamar was a sophomore. "Many of the children claimed him as their best friend. They said anytime that they had a down moment it was Jamar that came up to them, giving them a hug and making them feel better."
Photos of Jamar with a smile on his face were projected onto two large screens above the pulpit as mourners filed past his open casket. Many of the photos on screen and a program passed out to mourners showed Jamar with his mother, Lazette Cherry, who gave the account of her son's death.
Cherry has said her son told her he had improper sexual contact with the girl and she called his father. Cherry said the elder Pinkney arrived Nov. 16 with a gun, ordered his son to strip and marched him outside.
"He is in a better place," said Ardis Flowers, a 49-year-old who has lived in the area for about four years but didn't know Jamar's family. She said she hopped his death would inspire change.
"This is hell on Earth, if you ask me," she said.
Showbiz411's Roger Friedman says don't believe fellow entertainment columnist Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood story that Oprah Winfrey is leaving Chicago for good after her show ends because the city is too cold.
"We are ending the show, but not shutting our doors," Winfrey's rep Don Halcombe told Friedman.
"In addition to the show, Harpo has other divisions headquartered in the Windy City as well: Harpo Radio, Oprah.com, The Oprah Store, the charitable foundations like Oprah's Angel Network, our development group which created and launched 'The Dr. Oz Show' amongst other projects. It's our intention to have a full slate of programs in production at our studios in Chicago."
Halcombe continues: "She loves Chicago and has been very proud to call Chicago her home these last 24 years. Certainly, she will reside here during the final season of her show." source
Tyra Banks spoke out for the first time on Wednesday about the controversy that was sparked late last month after six contestants on "America's Next Top Model" were made to look bi-racial for a Hawaiian photo shoot.
In a nearly nine-minute speech at the start of Wednesday's "The Tyra Banks Show," the TV talk show host and "ANTM" Executive Producer revealed that the headlines prompted by turning her contestants into different races was difficult for the star.
"What we thought was a celebration turned out to be… very negative in some of the press and a lot of them were even saying that it was a former of racism," Tyra said. "A lot of them went so far as to accuse me and 'Top Model' of putting the girls in black face."
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, following the October airing of the episode, E! News asked whether the shoot was "Racy or Racist?" noting the girls were "coated in creams to darken their skin tone." Over at Entertainment Weekly, a writer noted that the models acted "like there's nothing socially charged at all about race-as-costume." And AOL TV ran a recap under the headline "Tyra Banks Puts 'Top Models' In Blackface. When Did This Become OK?"
The supermodel-turned-TV-mogul, who actually photographed the models like Laura, who went from "Caucasian" to "a stunning mix of Greek and Mexican cultures," for the Hawaiian shoot, said she wanted to address the headlines the episode prompted because "People read the headlines, but they don't take the time to read the facts… and a lot of the time, those facts are omitted to make a story sound more interesting."
Tyra went on to explain that the shoot was inspired by the Hawaiian word Hapa, which she explained "is when men and women of different cultures come together and they create racially mixed babies." And she insisted that her shoot (Tyra photographed the girls herself) did not cross the line.
"I want to be very clear: I, in no way, put my 'Top Models' in blackface," she said. "I'm a black woman. I am proud. I love my people and the struggle that we have gone through continues and the last thing that I would ever do is be a part of something that degraded my race."
And she went on to apologize to anyone who took offense to the shoot.
"I'm sorry to anybody that watched 'Top Model' and was offended by the pictures because they didn't understand the real story behind them or even if you did see the whole episode and you were still offended, I truly apologize because that is not my intention," she said. "My intention is to spread beauty and break down barriers."
Tyra said the reason she set up the shoot was related to a personal mission.
"It is a passion of mine, it's one of the reasons why I live and breathe and what I feel my duty is and it is definitely my number one passion in my life, to expand the definition of beauty, to stretch the boundaries and help young girls raise their self esteem by teaching them to embrace their beauty… to look in that mirror and see that different shade of their skin and say… 'This is beautiful,'" she said. source
First mammograms. Now — in an apparent coincidence — Pap smears.
New guidelines by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say most women in their 20s can have a Pap smear every two years instead of annually to catch slow-growing cervical cancer.
The change comes amid a separate debate over when regular mammograms to detect breast cancer should begin. The timing of the Pap guidelines is coincidence, said ACOG, which began reviewing its recommendations in late 2007 and published the update Friday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The guidelines also say:
_Routine Paps should start at age 21. Previously, ACOG had urged a first Pap either within three years of first sexual intercourse or at age 21.
_Women 30 and older should wait three years between Paps once they've had three consecutive clear tests. Other national guidelines have long recommended the three-year interval; ACOG had previously backed a two- to three-year wait.
_Women with HIV, other immune-weakening conditions or previous cervical abnormalities may need more frequent screening.
Paps can spot pre-cancerous changes in the cervix in time to prevent invasive cancer, and widespread use has halved cervical cancer rates in the U.S. in recent decades. About 11,270 new cases will be diagnosed this year, and about 4,070 women will die from it, according to American Cancer Society estimates. Half of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have never had a Pap, and another 10 percent haven't had one in five years.
Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of the extremely common sexually transmitted virus called HPV, for human papillomavirus. There is a new HPV vaccine that should cut cervical cancer in the future; ACOG's guidelines say for now vaccinated women should follow the same Pap guidelines as the unvaccinated.
But the updated guidelines reflect better understanding of HPV. Infection is high among sexually active teens and young adults. Women's bodies very often fight off an HPV infection on their own without lasting harm, although it can take a year or two. The younger the woman, the more likely that HPV is going to be transient.
Moreover, ACOG cited studies showing no increased risk of cancer developing in women in their 20s if they extended Pap screening from every year to every two years.
As for adolescents, ACOG said cervical cancer in teens is rare — one or two cases per million 15- to 19-year-olds — while HPV-caused cervical abnormalities usually go away on their own, and unnecessary treatment increases the girls' risk of premature labor years later. source
Two Clayton County teachers arrested for fighting over the same lover on Facebook no longer work together.
Rex Mill Middle School teachers Chaka Cobb and Ebony Smith were charged with misdemeanors last month after getting into a physical fight in front of students.
Employment records obtained by the AJC on Wednesday show Smith resigned in lieu of termination.
Cobb is currently serving a 19.5-day suspension without pay, according to the records. She is scheduled to return Dec. 4.
Smith was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. Cobb was charged with disorderly conduct.
The fight started after the women learned they both were involved with the same man -- Rex Mill physical education teacher Derek Green.
An internal investigation by school officials found all three teachers violated the "professional conduct" section of the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators, along with the school board's ethics policy.
Green was suspended 10 days without pay and returned to school on Monday. He was not charged with a crime.
Administrators also filed a complaint against the two female teachers with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which licenses all teachers in Georgia.
"There was swinging and hitting and profanity between the two," the complaint reads.
Green was not referred because his actions did not occur at school, district spokesman Charles White said.
Clayton Solicitor General Tasha Mosley said the cases have been assigned to a State Court judge and the women will likely be arraigned in January. Mosley said she expects to file State Court formal accusations against the women in the next few weeks.
According to a police report, Cobb, who is expecting a child from Green, found a love letter from Smith on Green's Facebook page.
"I am in love with you. I am tired of being your every blue moon [expletive]," the letter read.
Cobb posted a response on Facebook.
The fight then moved from the Web site to the school, where they women confronted each other.
According to a police report, Smith swung at Cobb in a classroom. Several other teachers broke up the fight and Cobb stormed down the hallway while threatening to post the letter on the blackboard.
Another school employee told police she pulled Cobb into another classroom, with the children present, to calm her down. But Cobb continued to curse in front of the students, police said.
Smith ran back into the room and "attempted to attack" Cobb, the report states.
Police interviewed several students, who said they heard Smith curse while teachers were holding her down.
Cobb teaches seventh and eighth grade language arts. Smith taught family and consumer science.
In an apology letter submitted to the administration, Cobb said her behavior was out of character and because of her "raging hormones" because of her pregnancy.
"I felt extremely threatened for myself and my fully developed child inside of me," she wrote.
Smith called the situation "childish and embarrassing." source
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour could be in for a fight next year over his proposal to merge that state's three public historically black universities into one institution.
Barbour on Monday proposed merging Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University into Jackson State University as part of his plan to deal with decreasing revenue and increasing government costs statewide. Each campus would continue to function, Barbour said in a prepared statement.
But lawmakers and leaders of the state's HBCUs say the governor should come up with other ideas for cuts that don't include merging the campuses.
"Every time the money is tight, they look at cutting money for our colleges or merging," said state Sen. David Jordan, a Democrat from Greenwood.
"We whipped the proposal when it came up in 1992, and we'll whip it again," Jordan told BlackAmericaWeb.com. "We're willing to fight and do whatever is necessary to keep our institutions."
Under Barbour's proposal, the mergers would take place in fiscal year 2011, but the state would not see a significant savings from the changes until fiscal 2012 when $35 million would be saved, according to state projections. The fiscal year in Mississippi begins on July 1.
Jordan said the proposal, is just that – a proposal.
"The governor proposes a budget, but we don't have to approve what he proposes in the Legislature," Jordan said. "We're going to fight this."
Barbour also has proposed merging Mississippi College for Women, which is no longer a women's only school, into Mississippi State University.
Kathie Stromile Golden, a professor of political science at Mississippi Valley State University, said the merger proposal does not take into account each HBCU's distinct academic mission, athletic programs and base of alumni and supporters.
"Many of our students here at Mississippi Valley State come from the Delta. They come here because it is closer to home, so it's cheaper to get back and forth. They also come here because we offer the programs that interest them," Golden told BlackAmericaWeb.com. "Each university is different."
Mississippi's three public HBCUs came about at a time when the state, whose name was synonymous with segregation, did not want blacks attending the predominately white universities.
"If there had not been segregation in Mississippi higher education in the first place, we would not have the historically black institutions. Now, instead of looking at ways to cut our funding, they need to look at how far we have come with our programs," she said.
Alcorn State University, founded in 1871, is the nation's oldest state-supported institution for the higher education of African-Americans, according to the university's website. The college is located in Lorman, Mississippi about 80 miles southwest of Jackson. A total of 3,339 students enrolled in the fall semester, a 2.7 percent increase over the fall semester in the previous year.
Jackson State University was founded in 1877. Today, the state's urban university has 8,785 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. The enrollment for the fall semester represents a 4.9 percent increase over the previous fall enrollment.
Mississippi Valley State University, located about 100 miles north of Jackson, is the youngest of the state's public HBCUs. It was founded in 1950. This fall, the university had an enrollment of 2,819, a 3.8 percent decrease, compared to the previous year's fall enrollment.
The mergers would leave Mississippi with five public universities instead of eight.
The federal government could be vulnerable to billions of dollars in claims after a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers' failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval on Wednesday awarded seven plaintiffs $720,000, but the government could eventually be forced to pay much more. The ruling should give more than 100,000 other individuals, businesses and government entities a better shot at claiming damages.
Duval sided with six residents and one business who argued the Army Corps' shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He said, however, the corps couldn't be held liable for the flooding of eastern New Orleans, where two of the plaintiffs lived.
The ruling is also emotionally resonant for south Louisiana. Many in New Orleans have argued that the flooding in the aftermath of Katrina, which struck the region Aug. 29, 2005, was a manmade disaster caused by the Army Corps' failure to maintain the levee system protecting the city.
"Total devastation could possibly have been avoided if something had been done," said Tanya Smith, one of the plaintiffs. "A lot of this stuff was preventable and they turned a deaf ear to it."
The 36-year-old registered nurse anesthetist lived in Chalmette close to the channel when Katrina hit. She was awarded $317,000 in property damages, the most of any of the plaintiffs.
Duval referred to the corps' approach to maintaining the channel as "monumental negligence."
Joe Bruno, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, said the ruling underscored the Army Corps' long history of not properly protecting the New Orleans region.
"It's high time we look at the way these guys do business and do a full re-evaluation of the way it does business," Bruno said.
He said he expected the government to appeal.
An Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges after she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas.
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment orders because the only family she had to care for her 10-month-old son — her mother — was overwhelmed by the task, already caring for three other relatives with health problems.
Her civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Monday that one of Hutchinson's superiors told her she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care.
"For her it was like, 'I couldn't abandon my child,'" Sussman said. "She was really afraid of what would happen, that if she showed up they would send her to Afghanistan anyway and put her son with child protective services."
Hutchinson, who is from Oakland, Calif., remained confined Monday to the boundaries of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, 10 days after military police arrested her for skipping her unit's flight. No charges have been filed, but a spokesman for the Army post said commanders were investigating.
Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, said he didn't know what Hutchinson was told by her commanders, but he said the Army would not deploy a single parent who had nobody to care for his or her child.
"I don't know what transpired and the investigation will get to the bottom of it," Larson said. "If she would have come to the deployment terminal with her child, there's no question she would not have been deployed."
Hutchinson's son, Kamani, was placed into custody overnight with a daycare provider on the Army post after she was arrested and jailed briefly, Larson said. Hutchinson's mother picked up the child a week ago and took him back to her home in California.
Hutchinson, who's assigned to the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, joined the Army in 2007 and had no previous deployments, Sussman said. She said Hutchinson is no longer in a relationship with the father.
The Army requires all single-parent soldiers to submit a care plan for dependent children before they can deploy to a combat zone.
Hutchinson had such a plan — her mother, Angelique Hughes, had agreed to care for the boy. Hughes said Monday she kept the boy for about two weeks in October before deciding she couldn't keep him for a full year.
Hughes said she's already having to care for her ailing mother and sister, as well as a daughter with special needs. She also runs a daycare center at her home, keeping about 14 children during the day. source
There is even more drama on the Jackson family front as two of Michael's siblings speak out against the late pop star's doctor, currently under investigation in the singer's death, as well as their own father.
First, Janet Jackson says in a new interview that she blames Dr. Conrad Murray for Michael's death.
She told ABC News in an interview to air Wednesday that Murray should no longer be allowed to practice medicine. Murray faces manslaughter charges for the pop star's death this summer. A spokeswoman for the doctor, Miranda Sevcik said Monday he continues to maintain he neither prescribed or administered anything to Jackson that should have killed him.
Jackson told ABC's Robin Roberts that she was at her home in New York on June 25 when her assistant called to say Michael had been taken to the hospital. She told relatives to call her when they got to the hospital and grew concerned when she wasn't getting any calls back.
She says that a day doesn't go by when she doesn't think of him.
But she's also thinking about her father, Joe Jackson. I've learned that Janet and sister LaToya have temporarily set aside their ongoing feud (mostly about the raising of Michael's three children) to team up to combat their father.
A source says the two sisters are attempting (along with their mother, Katherine Jackson) "to rein in Joe" and his various schemes to capitalize financially on Michael's memory and music.
"In fact, at this point, almost all of Michael's brothers and sisters — with the exception of Randy — are horrified by how blatant Joe is ... exposing how greedy he is," said the longtime Jackson family insider.
The death of Chicago School Board President Michael Scott was ruled a suicide this afternoon by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. He died of a gunshot wound to the head, officials said.
When police found his body early this morning, Scott was face down in a foot of water along the Chicago River downtown, a .380-caliber handgun under his body, a source said.
The 60-year-old Scott, Mayor Daley's go-to-guy for years, had a gunshot wound to his left temple.
He left behind his cell phone on a ledge overlooking the river on the west side of the Apparel Center, 350 N. Orleans.
But he left no note, a source said.
Another source who was with the Scott family today said the family does not believe Scott committed suicide and are not accepting the medical examiner's conclusion.
"They know him to be a fighter," the source said. "He had so much life ahead of him and so much more to do."
Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said police are continuing to try to answer questions surrounding the circumstances of Scott's death.
"The death investigation continues," he said. "It's too early for us to draw conclusions about his death."
Weis said Scott was last seen at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, but declined to comment where he was or who saw him.
Scott, who was reported missing by his family around midnight Monday, had apparently plunged about 15 feet from the ledge into the shallow water. His car — a blue Cadillac — was found about 30 feet from his body, a source said.
Police found the body at 3:15 a.m. It was taken to the department's Marine Unit headquarters and then transported to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, where an autopsy will be performed.
As details continued to emerge about the stunning death of the head of Chicago's school board, family, friends, colleagues expressed their sadness.
An ashen Daley said he saw no indication that his close friend was troubled, saying Scott's death "is a shock for everyone."
"No, no. None whatsoever," Daley said when asked if he sensed Scott was struggling with personal issues. "Mike was always helping people with troubles."
Daley said he has known Scott for 30 years and said his friend "knows more than anyone else about the school system."
"He was truly a Chicagoan," Daley said. "Born on the West Side, loved the West Side of the City of Chicago. Helped an enormous amount of people. He could diffuse issues at all time with his personality." source
First Lady Michelle Obama will take her mentoring program on the road Monday, gathering in Denver, Col., with cabinet members, A-list celebrities and local officials to highlight the need for hands-on involvement in young women's lives.
The day-long trip will include remarks and a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion and visits to local schools.
Actresses Susan Sarandon, Traci Ellis Ross, and Alfre Woodard will fan out to different schools, as will Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Colorado's first lady Jeannie Ritter and Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo).
East Wing aides said that Denver was chosen because it has such a diverse population of young women. According to U.S. Census Bureau 2008 estimates, 34.4 percent of this city's population is Hispanic, 10.1 percent is black or African American, and 3.4 percent is Asian.
East Wing aides said she will travel again in the next months to encourage mentoring on a national scale--her domestic itinerary so far has included trips to California, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. source
Latest statistics on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis show the three highly treatable infections continue to spread in the United States.
"Chlamydia and gonorrhea are stable at unacceptably high levels and syphilis is resurgent after almost being eliminated," said John Douglas, director of the division of sexually transmitted diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We have among the highest rates of STDs of any developed country in the world," Douglas added in a telephone interview.
The administration of President Barack Obama has signaled a willingness to move away from so-called abstinence-only sex education approaches promoted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, and conservative state and local governments.
Several studies have shown such approaches do not work well and that it is better to encourage abstinence while also offering children and teens information about how to protect themselves from diseases as well as pregnancy.
"We haven't been promoting the full battery of messages," Douglas said. "We have been sending people out with one seatbelt in the whole car."
The CDC's latest study on STDs found:
* 1.2 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2008, up from 1.1 million in 2007.
* Nearly 337,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported.
* Adolescent girls 15 to 19 years had the most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases of any age group at 409,531.
* Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 71 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008.
* Black women 15 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
* 13,500 syphilis cases were reported in 2008, an almost 18 percent increase from 2007.
* 63 percent of syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men.
* Syphilis rates among women increased 36 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea can all be treated with antibiotics but untreated can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy and can infect newborns.
Douglas said better sex education can help.
"We are not honestly and openly dealing with this issue and it's the larger issue of sexual health," he said.
Douglas said children and teens need to know about condom use, and should limit their number of sex partners and avoid sex with people who do have many other sex partners.
"If you are a man who has sex with men you ought to be getting a battery of STD tests every year," Douglas added.
In addition, black Americans need to understand their risks. Douglas said high rates of incarceration of men in many black communities meant fewer men have sex with more women, in turn often spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Overall, CDC estimates that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, almost half among 15- to 24-year-olds. source
Director Lee Daniels says he felt compelled to bring the story of child abuse to the big screen in "Precious" because it helped heal the scars from his own painful past.
The filmmaker has won critical acclaim for the movie, based on author Sapphire's book Push, about a pregnant teenager who is sexually abused by her father and subjected to physical beatings from her mother.
Child abuse victims Oprah Winfrey and director Tyler Perry were so moved by the film, they jumped on board as executive producers - and now Daniels, who is gay, reveals his motivation to make "Precious" a success is rooted in his own traumatizing experiences.
"My dad wanted me to be a strong man, and I was walking downstairs in my mother's red high-heeled pumps," he tells Vanity Fair magazine. "He couldn't beat it out of me... I made this movie to heal - and hopefully to heal others." source