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The hidden history of Nasas black female scientists

The diversity of Nasas workforce in 1940s Virginia is uncovered in a new book by Margot Lee Shetterly. She recalls how a visit to her home town led to a revelation

Mrs Land worked as a computer out at Langley, my father said, taking a right turn out of the parking lot of the First Baptist church in Hampton, Virginia. My husband and I visited my parents just after Christmas in 2010, enjoying a few days away from our full-time life and work in Mexico.

They squired us around town in their 20-year-old green minivan, my father driving, my mother in the front passenger seat, Aran and I buckled in behind like siblings. My father, gregarious as always, offered a stream of commentary that shifted fluidly from updates on the friends and neighbours wed bumped into around town to the weather forecast to elaborate discourses on the physics underlying his latest research as a 66-year-old doctoral student at Hampton University.

He enjoyed touring my Maine-born-and-raised husband through our neck of the woods and refreshing my connection with local life and history in the process.

As a callow 18-year-old leaving for college, Id seen my home town as a mere launching pad for a life in worldlier locales, a place to be from rather than a place to be. But years and miles away from home could never attenuate the citys hold on my identity and the more I explored places and people far from Hampton, the more my status as one of its daughters came to mean to me. That day after church, we spent a long while catching up with the formidable Mrs Land, who had been one of my favourite Sunday school teachers. Kathaleen Land, a retired Nasa mathematician, still lived on her own well into her 90s and never missed a Sunday at church.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/05/hidden-figures-black-female-scientists-african-americans-margot-lee-shetterly-space-race


What the Williams sisters mean in America today | Derrick Clifton

In an uncertain era, the success of Venus and Serena tells a story of the greatness that already exists in the United States

It was to be Serenas day. But the impact of an all-Williams final at the Australian Open cannot be overstated.

Before Serenas victory over Venus in Melbourne, the 23rd major title of her glittering career, the last time the two sisters went head-to-head in a grand slam final was at Wimbledon in 2009. Serena bested Venus in a tough two-set match. At the time, the sisters had won multiple titles in their already storied careers, which began with family practice sessions on the dilapidated courts of Compton.

Off the court, another breakthrough: Barack Obama had recently been sworn in as the nations first African American president. When Serena was winning Wimbledon, Obama was only months into his first term. As fraught as his legacy may be, history will likely regard him as the most inclusive president the country has ever had.

Obamas presence at the helm of the nation was a newfound symbol of possibility. It was the first time that a man who wasnt white and wealthy occupied the Oval Office.

And the Williams sisters have represented something similar for American tennis, and the sport at large, carrying a legacy that dates back to the triumphs of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. Theyve defied the odds, as a family, and as sisters, to achieve unrivaled excellence on their own terms.

Both sisters, black women, have pushed past abject racism at major tournaments, sexist and misogynist characterizations of their physicality and their bodies, and many other indignities as urban-raised women playing a sport associated with wealthy suburban whites.

And as they moved through the draw in Melbourne, a businessman named Donald Trump became the US president.

His record, and his campaign, ran antithetical to almost anything Obama and the Williams sisters represent. Trump bragged of grabbing women by their genitals; various sexual harassment and rape claims emerged last year. His company faced a lawsuit from the US Justice Department in 1973, which was settled with no admission of wrongdoing, where Trumps real-estate business allegedly discriminated against black people. He advocated immigration bans for Muslims, and rallied for building a wall with Mexico two promises he seems intent on keeping based on recently filed executive orders.

A vote for Trump was a vote to Make America Great Again or so he claimed.

Although the all-Williams final has nothing to do with Trump directly because we can indeed celebrate their latest feat independent of politics their mere presence and achievement in the sport, as two black women, tells a story of the greatness that already exists in America.

For scores of fans, and for up-and-coming tennis players, the Williams sisters have demonstrated whats possible when two individuals, with the support of family, community, and each other, power through adversity and absurdity to reach the highest heights of their craft.

Their stories, and their careers, have inspired a generation including the likes of 25-year-old American pro Coco Vandeweghe, who, before their semi-final match, said shed long counted Venus as a hero. Or even 21-year-old Madison Keys, the heir apparent to Serenas throne.

And on a personal level, although Im far from a professional tennis player, I once dreamed about that possibility. As a kid who grew up on Chicagos South Side, I didnt see or notice much about tennis; I was being pushed towards basketball or football. Thats until I happened upon Venus playing in the 2000 Wimbledon final, against Lindsay Davenport. I remember sitting on my aunts bed, as an 11-year-old, watching the match on an 80s color TV set.

After seeing Venus win, I thought: Maybe I can try and play that sport someday. I do so now. Many of my friends would say something similar after watching the Williams sisters in their youth, and as they aged along with them.

But now, at 36 and 35 respectively, Venus and Serena still appear to have a few more good years left. When they last met at a grand slam, in the 2015 US Open quarter-finals, many fans wondered if that would be the last time theyd see the sisters across the net from each other at a major. Itd become something fans expected during the early-to-mid 2000s, before injuries, health issues, and other life events posed as twists in the sisters tales.

We cant be sure if this years Australian Open will be the last time. For all we know, 2017 could be 2002-03 all over again, when Serena prevailed in four consecutive grand slam finals over Venus, winning her first of two Serena slams.

Whatever happens, however much longer they play professionally, what the Williams sisters have given to fans is more than enough, both on and off the court. Theyve approached their careers with style, humor, aplomb, and even pointed snark when need be.

And they, as individuals and as a family unit, are but one example of Americas promise one theyve achieved for themselves, one theyve presented as a possibility to a new generation, and as part of a larger promise thats yet to be fulfilled for black people, women, and other marginalized people, who now live amid fear and resistance in the age of Trump.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jan/29/venus-serena-williams-australian-open-america


Venice’s black enclave buffeted by police pressure and tech-driven gentrification

The Oakwood area of Los Angeless coastal resort is changing fast on the back of the Silicon Valley boom and a gang injunction some say amounts to harassment

African Americans helped to build Venice a century ago, gifting Los Angeles a coastal resort, but were banned from owning homes along the boardwalk and canals, which were reserved for white folk.

Instead a one-square-mile cluster of streets a mile inland, away from tourist view, was set aside for black residents. It was called Oakwood and became a tight-knit community with vibrant street life, neighbours saluting each other from porches.

Its nickname, Ghost Town, possibly alluded to life in the shadows. It was one of the only enclaves for blacks, and later Latinos, close to the ocean on the entire US west coast.

These days Ghost Town has a new meaning.

All the people that used to live here have moved out, said Charles Williamson, 84, a retired clerk. Took the money and run. Or couldnt afford to live here. Or got harassed out of it.

Venice, a chameleon that has been an oil town, bohemian idyll, crumbling ghetto and tourist mecca, is adopting a new guise: tech citadel.

Tech-driven gentrification is also transforming San Francisco, Oakland and other California cities but in Venice there is a twist. A police gang injunction is allegedly accelerating the process by hounding black and Latino residents.

A drastic measure adopted in 1999 to contain gang violence has endured even though Oakwood is now largely peaceful, with gang members dead, retired or dispersed. The injunction covers parts of adjacent Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a parade of chi-chi boutiques, cafes and restaurants which GQ dubbed the coolest block in America.

Members of Oakwoods dwindling population of colour allege police use the injunctions extensive powers to harass them while turning a blind eye to infractions by white arrivals.

Donald
Donald Coulter, centre, playing dominos with friends in Oakwood park, Venice. Photograph: Rory Carroll

We dont feel welcome here. Wrong complexion, said Donald Coulter, 61, a lifelong resident, who was playing dominos with black friends in the park.

Another man in his 60s, who declined to be named because he felt targeted by the injunction, said he could be detained just for greeting a friend in the street while whites rode bikes without lights and walked dogs off leashes, trivial-seeming violations that underlined racial inequity.

Robin Rudisill, a former neighbourhood council member, shook her head when asked about gentrifiers. Gentrifuckers, she corrected.

Census and city figures show that since 1980 the proportion of black residents has almost halved from 9.6% to 5.4%, a trend probably amplified by the current real estate boom.

Soaring property values Venice is pricier per square foot than Beverly Hills, Bel Air and San Francisco have tempted many to cash in on properties inherited from parents and grandparents. Some have moved to other parts of LA, others out of California altogether.

Jataun
Jataun Valentine outside her Venice home, built by her grandfather in 1925. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Jataun Valentine, 79, who lives in a house her grandfather built, said long-term neighbours and the wooden bungalows they called home were vanishing, giving way to high fences and mansions of steel and glass. The new neighbours are all hiding. You never see them. Everything is like a fortress.

Ira Koslow, president of Venices neighbourhood council, said sellers were just as culpable as the buyers who replaced airy bungalows with monster homes. Its heartbreaking. But its an economic issue not a race issue. This is capitalism. People who have owned property since forever got a huge bonus.

The gang injunction, however, injects an additional factor. A civil court order, it imposes parole-like restrictions on suspected gang members, for instance socialising with other suspected gang members, including relatives. Or wearing colours associated with a gang. Violators can can be charged with contempt and jailed for six months.

LA has used such injunctions since the late 1980s when the city became a byword for drive-by shootings. Homicide rates in LA County have since plunged from 2,589 in 1992 to 649 last year, and LA is now one of the USs safest metropolises. But the injunctions endure.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit last month to stop the enforcement of 46 separate injunctions against approximately 10,000 people covering 75 square miles, or 15%, of LA. The suit complained authorities often obtained an injunction against a gang, not individuals, but that police were then free to slap restrictions on anyone.

Jataun
Jataun Valentine viewing family portraits in the Venice house her grandfather built. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Those who have been on the injunction for decades feel like theyre under constant scrutiny. Its used as a tool of harassment, said Catherine Wagner, an ACLU attorney who specialises in policing in southern California.

Melvin Hayward, a gang-prevention activist with the Helper Foundation, called the Venice injunction obsolete and unjust. We call it blanket suppression. Affected people could not leave home together, even if related, he said.

The harassment fuelled gentrification, Hayward said. Definitely a connection. Youre seeing black and brown being targeted.

Josh Green, of the not-for-profit Urban Peace Institute, cited one man, out from jail, who was returning home from his job as a security guard when police stopped and detained him because his cousin was giving him a lift. He was sent back to prison.

Whether or not it was an original tool of gentrification, Green said, it became a component. People feel fear about being in their communities so they work very hard to stay out of sight or just move out.

The LAPD did not respond to an interview request for this article.

Matthew Royce, an architect and neighbourhood council member who has built property in Oakwood, said there was bias against residents of colour but that crime remained an issue. While living in Oakwood I heard shooting several times. Pop pop pop.

A hooded man shot and killed a traffic worker in August.

For Mark Ryavec, head of the Venice Stakeholders Association, the notion that police act as gentrification agents is a bunch of radical bullshit.

Residents
Residents complain that they are harassed by police while white newcomers transgressions, such as failing to control their dogs, are ignored. Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

Residents, he said, were cashing in on soaring property values and resettling in comfortable homes in cheaper areas. A large population of black Americans who may have owned from Abbot Kinneys time voluntarily took their equity and left, he said, referring to the tobacco baron who conceived Venice.

Oakwoods transformation unfolds largely unseen by the 150,000 tourists who throng the carnivalesque boardwalk of buskers, drum circles, painters, bodybuilders and exhibitionists every weekend.

Guests at the Airbnb properties which now sprinkle Oakwood can see the building blitz but the glass and steel stucco boxes are indistinguishable from the others popping up across Venice.

Either from temptation or pressure the slow-motion exodus seems set to continue.

The tech cash wave fuelling property prices and a homelessness crisis hundreds sleep in Venices doorways and on the beach is about to become a tsunami. The social media company Snap, which hosts 600 employees across Venice, is expected to debut on the stock market next year with a $25bn valuation.

How much longer Oaklands ageing African American population clings on is anyones guess.

Some, like Ricky, 54, a low-income housing resident on disability benefit, who declined to give a last name, are philosophical. Most days he sits on a porch, watching the new buildings go up. Were getting used to the white folks, he said. Blacks are moving out all the time. You have to change with the times. Thats the way life is.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/01/venice-gentrification-oakwood-african-american-california


‘Learn English’: LA landlords allegedly harassed Latinos to get richer tenants

Exclusive: lawsuit paints disturbing picture of company that targeted Latinos, low-income tenants and those with mental disabilities in illegal eviction scheme

The Latino families all got the same threat posted on their doors: if their children played in the apartments hallways, they would be evicted. When the Spanish-speaking parents asked the Los Angeles property managers for help reading the notices, they were told: Learn English.

According to a federal discrimination lawsuit filed Thursday against a major California real estate investment firm, when four mothers inquired about the notices, management threatened to call immigration, social services and the police.

I was in shock, said Carmen Castro, one of the mothers. That really created a fear in us.

The complaint against Optimus Properties paints a disturbing picture of a company that has targeted and harassed Latino residents, low-income tenants and renters with mental disabilities as part of an illegal eviction scheme to replace them with wealthier, younger people.

Civil rights advocates said the suit, filed on behalf of 15 tenants and advocacy group Strategic Alliance for a Just Economy, provides a window into the tactics of profit-driven real estate investors who are aggressively purchasing and flipping older buildings, accelerating gentrification, displacement and income inequality in cities across the US.

Hilda
Hilda Deras, 76, has received baseless eviction notices and faced harassment from her landlords, according to the federal lawsuit. Photograph: Joshua Busch

The allegations come at a time of increased anxiety for Latino families and immigrants tied to the surprise victory of Donald Trump. The president-elect has called Mexicans rapists, has threatened to deport millions and in the 1970s was accused of discriminating against African Americans at his real estate properties.

The lawsuit, filed by the not-for-profit groups Public Counsel and Public Advocates, covers five buildings with a total of 150 units in Koreatown, a gentrifying neighborhood that has historically been affordable to working-class people, with a high concentration of Asian American and Latino families.

The complaint alleged that Jerome Mickelson, Optimus director of construction and multifamily asset manager, along with a number of his affiliated real estate companies, have systematically targeted tenants protected by rent control.

For this population, new landlords are barred from raising rents beyond small annual increases and cannot evict them if they continue to pay rent, but the laws havent stopped Mickelson, according to the complaint.

In an email to the Guardian, Mickelson strongly denied the allegations. We take these allegations very seriously and categorically deny each and every such allegation, he said. He added that the lawsuit was filed without proper analysis and investigation and that the companies look forward to working with the Plaintiff to educate them about the real facts and if need be, to exonerate ourselves at trial.

Residents are treated with respect at all stages of their tenancy, he added.

However, according to the complaint, property managers in the buildings allegedly filed a series of illegal eviction notices and have created a hostile and threatening environment for tenants.

The landlords in one building allegedly told tenants that the new managers dont want to rent to people with mental disabilities, that they should move, and that they belong in group homes, the suit said.

Landlords have additionally told Latino tenants that their food smells disgusting and foul and that the tenants need to learn to read English since they are in America, according to court records.

Tenants
Tenants targeted for eviction have struggled to get management to address infestations of rodents, roaches and bedbugs, broken heaters and bathtubs, plumbing problems, leaks, peeling drywall, mold and other maintenance problems, according to the complaint. Photograph: Joshua Busch

Utilizing a practice that activists say is common for real estate investors who flip buildings, Optimus has also allegedly allowed for uninhabitable living conditions in the apartments with rent control while providing freshly renovated units in good and sanitary condition to new tenants who are English-speaking.

Tenants targeted for eviction have struggled to get management to address infestations of rodents, roaches and bedbugs, broken heaters and bathtubs, plumbing problems, leaks, peeling drywall, mold and other maintenance problems, according to the complaint.

Optimus has advertised a Koreatown strategy in its marketing materials, explicitly stating that it is focused on value creation by investing in old buildings and renovating units as they become vacant.

Deepika Sharma, attorney with Public Counsel, said these kinds of campaigns against tenants are not unique.

It is wide-scale, she said, adding that tenants fears of racial discrimination have escalated since Trumps victory. Even before this election, our clients experienced this racism that threatened their ability to live in their homes.

Arthur
Arthur Rivera, a 67-year-old tenant with a disability, has received numerous unlawful eviction notices, the lawsuit alleged. Photograph: Joshua Busch

Demetrius Allen, a 45-year-old African American tenant who has a mental disability, was chronically homeless before he moved in to the Koreatown building in 2012. He has received more than a dozen eviction notices since Optimus purchased the property all of which were illegal, according to the complaint.

Im completely overwhelmed, he said. Every day of the week its always something.

An on-site manager allegedly told Allen that the landlords planned to rid the building of persons with mental disabilities, the suit said.

When he first moved in, he said, It was a sanctuary. But he said the nonstop threats from management and the fear that he may be homeless again have taken a severe toll on his mental health.

Its really destroyed my peace of mind. Youre always angry or paranoid. You never know whats going to happen next.

Castro, 31, whose sons are ages five and 11, said that she doesnt know how her family could find another affordable place if her landlord successfully pushes her out. We would end up homeless, out on the streets.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/18/latino-evictions-california-housing-discrimination


Oakland’s ‘mega-evictor’, the landlord who filed over 3,000 eviction notices

Pro-tenant group says a landlord who has a seat on Oaklands housing cabinet is also the top evictor in the city, where a housing crunch has reached crisis levels

Leketha Williams was out of options. When the Oakland, California, mother was evicted and became homeless in May of 2010, she had just enough money to book a hotel for her and her two sons, then aged seven and 12.

In the following weeks, she worked to get her children to school on time each morning before carrying all of their belongings from one temporary home to the next, often forced to make dinners for the family out of hotel microwaves.

Williams had fallen behind on rent during a difficult financial period and had begged her landlords for mercy, writing in one handwritten letter: Please let us stay for at least a week because my boys do not have anywhere to go Do it for the sake of my boys.

But records show the sheriff ultimatelyforced her to surrender her apartment.

It was horrible, Williams, 47, recalled in a recent interview. I was very shocked They didnt give us no time.

Its possible that Williamss story could have turned out differently had she not lived in a building managed by William Rosetti. A review of public records by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a pro-tenant group, suggests that the Bay Area real estate executive, through his expansive portfolio of property companies and investments, is Oaklands number one mega-evictor.

The organizations research and an analysis by the Guardian reveal that in Oakland, Rosetti and his business firms have filed more than 3,000 eviction notices, which are the first step in removing a tenant. The data, along with accounts from evicted tenants, paint a picture of painful displacement and rising income inequality in Oakland, a city that is rapidly gentrifying amid the tech boom of nearby San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

These evictions and the rent increases are part of an ecosystem thats leading to a massive demographic shift of who can live in Oakland, said Erin McElroy, co-founder of the mapping project and co-author of a new report on displacement in the region.

Evictions arent the only way Rosetti may be having an impact on Oakland. The researchers were particularly shocked to discover that the apparent top evictor has a seat on Mayor Libby Schaafs housing cabinet, a body dedicated to promoting equity and affordable housing in an increasingly unaffordable city.

I watched the gentrification

Williamss story is a familiar one in the Bay Area, where black residents have been displaced at alarming rates. By many measures, the housing crunch has reached crisis levels in Oakland, which has been deeply burdened by the migration out of San Francisco, the city across the bay known to have the priciest real estate in the country.

Leketha
Leketha Williams said the eviction trapped her in a cycle of financial hardship. Photograph: Sam Levin for the Guardian

I actually watched the gentrification, said Mario Benton, 51, who lived in one of Rosettis buildings for more than 15 years and said there werent many black residents left when he moved out a few years ago.

Oakland now has one of the fastest-rising rents in the US and the countrys fourth most expensive rental market, with a median rent of $2,280 a month for a one-bedroom.

As some of the worlds largest technology corporations continue to prosper in Silicon Valley, making the region unaffordable to many and leading to mass evictions, activists have grown increasingly worried about the negative effect of tech in Oakland, where Uber is planning a major office development.

While Oakland rents have nearly doubled from 2011, the median income of residents has increased by only 11%, leading some to suggest that it has the worst affordability crisis of any major US city.

The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, which studies Bay Area displacement, collected data from the local rent board and found that landlords have filed about 50,000 eviction notices since 2008 (though the city failed to provide data for 2009 and 2010).

The statistics largely refer to three-day notices to pay or quit, the first step in an eviction when a tenant misses a payment, and the cases generally cover buildings protected by rent control, meaning older properties where landlords are limited in how they can raise the rent.

The group also uncovered that dozens of the obscure limited liability corporations (LLCs) listed on the documents traced back to thousands of Rosettis units, with properties scattered across the city. The Guardian was able to confirm that more than 3,000 notices included in the rent board database were tied to his companies.

Rosetti told the Guardian that he has been in the business for 40 years and that his companies currently have a total of roughly 1,200 units, mostly in Oakland.

Oakland evictions

On one of his websites, he touts his work in San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s, saying he was at the forefront of the condominium conversion business, a process that removes rentals from the housing stock and can lead to large-scale displacement of tenants.

For some Oakland renters evicted by Rosetti, the consequences were devastating.

It does something to you mentally

Terry Braggs said that when he lost a restaurant job in 2011, the management at his Rosetti building refused to negotiate with him.

I remember saying, Im really good for it, I just need a little bit more time. I lost my job, the 33-year-old chef said in an interview.

But his landlords moved forward with an eviction, andBraggs said he had to leave Oakland and move back in with his parents 30 miles away from the Bay Area restaurant scene where he was trying to build his career.

Terry
Terry Braggs said he had to leave Oakland and move back in with his parents in a suburb 30 miles away when he was evicted. Photograph: Courtesy of Terry Braggs

It was overall stress and a little bit of depression, he said. Being evicted and forced to leave a place where you live, it does something to you mentally.

Braggs said it also has been an ongoing battle to secure housing now that he has an eviction on his record. Owners see that and its like youve got a disease It is an extremely hard process to get back on your feet.

Sascha Illyvich, a Rosetti tenant who faced two eviction lawsuits for missed rent payments, said he felt targeted since he and his girlfriend at the time frequently spoke up about maintenance issues and other problems. During the second case, he said they decided to leave. They were trying to do anything to get us out They didnt like the fact that we complained and knew our rights.

Williams, the mother who became homeless in 2010, said the eviction trapped her in a cycle of financial hardship. Paying nightly fees for hotels, she couldnt save enough money for a deposit on a new apartment, and the many challenges of homelessness made it impossible for her to have a steady job.

We had to start all over again, she said.

Todd Rothbard, Rosettis attorney who handled the three cases, said management was patient with those tenants, gave them opportunities to pay owed rent and granted their requests for additional time before they were forced to move out.

In Williamss case, Rosetti claimed the mother was given multiple warnings and had missed several rent payments, though court filings show she was only behind by one month when his company moved to evict her.

Its difficult to know how many of Rosettis eviction cases end in displacement. The mapping project also analyzed court records and found that over the past 10 years, Rosetti has been associated with hundreds of eviction lawsuits (the next step after filing a notice).

Many of the thousands of rent board notices from Rosetti may not have resulted in formal eviction cases in court. But activists note that in general there are numerous ways in which tenants are pushed out without lawsuits.

Some may leave when they get a notice in an effort to avoid having an eviction on their record, some may not know their rights, and some may face harassment from managers, advocates said.

Pretty much industry standard

Rosetti and his lawyer strongly disputed allegations that he is a major evictor, arguing that the three-day notices are standard filings when tenants fall behind, and that his companies work with tenants to help them stay. Indeed, the Guardian interviewed several of his tenants who were given second chances after missing a payment.

Leketha
Leketha Williams: We had to start all over again. Photograph: Sam Levin for the Guardian

We dont evict unless its somebody who is absolutely egregious, Rosetti said, adding in a later email. An eviction is a major tragedy in anyones life and when a resident loses the ability to earn or provide sufficient money for shelter it is a societal failure.

Presented with specific documentation on the number of notices, Rosetti said he could not comment on the veracity of the data.

He also claimed that he gives tenants many chances to pay debts, which is why he might have a high number of individual notices, and further noted that he filed a much higher rate of eviction lawsuits during the foreclosure crisis 10 years ago. This year, he said, he has had fewer than 20 cases.

Rothbard argued that the eviction numbers are simply a result of Rosettis large volume of units and claimed that many of the buildings have marginal tenants who struggle to keep up.

Its pretty much industry standard, he said. The fact that hes had to serve that many notices shows you the quality of tenants hes dealing with.

Mayor Schaaf said in an interview that Rosetti has not influenced any specific policies while on her housing cabinet and said it was useful to have executives such as him involved in a group that brings together developers and housing activists.

He is certainly the type of person we would want to influence, she said. If he is in fact the largest evictor he is exactly the kind of person you want in the room.

Finding ways to stem the tide of displacement is her top priority, Schaaf added. Im concerned with the total number of evictions, period It is horrific and it is damaging to this community.

Rosetti argued that the solution to Oaklands housing crisis was to build more housing and raise the wages of low-income and middle-class people.

Housing is the number one crisis in Oakland, he said.What we all need to do is work together to create more affordable housing for everybody.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/31/oakland-eviction-notices-affordable-housing-crisis-rent-bay-area


Don King uses N-word while introducing Trump at Cleveland rally

The boxing promoter seemed to utter the racial epithet by accident after encouraging white women to vote for the doctor of humanness on Wednesday

As Donald Trump continued his attempts to reach out to African American voters, boxing promoter Don King used the N-word in introducing him at a church in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Midwest Vision and Values Pastors Leadership Conference hosted by longtime Trump ally Dr Darrell Scott, King used the term seemingly by accident while attempting to use negro as a replacement.

I told Michael Jackson, I said, If you are poor, you are a poor negro, he said. I would use the N-word. But if you are rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, youre an intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding nigger I meant negro youre a dancing and sliding and gliding negro. So dare not alienate because you cannot assimilate.

The use of the racial epithet led to awkward laughter from Trump and other audience members.

Kings use of the term followed bizarre meandering remarks in which he argued that every white woman should vote for Donald Trump and praised the Republican nominee as a doctor of humanness and as the only gladiator. The boxing promoter, convicted of killing two men in separate incidents in the 1950s and 60s, bemoaned the medias treatment of Trump, saying: They vet him like hes a politician.

When the system was created, they did not give her, the white woman did not have her rights and she still does not have her rights, he said. Donald … when I see them try to ridiculize him, or when they try to ostracize … I want you to understand that every white woman should vote for Donald Trump … to knock out the system.

Trump followed King, praising the boxing promoter, who served four years for manslaughter and invoked his fifth amendment constitutional rights when asked about his ties to John Gotti in 1992, as someone who took advantage of a lot of situations.

King had reportedly been considered to speak at Julys Republican national convention by Trump before his appearance onstage was vetoed by party chair Reince Priebus.

In his remarks, Trump struck themes that have become familiar in his attempts to win over African American voters. He argued that inner cities were less safe than Afghanistan and asked black voters: What have you got to lose? Trumps polling numbers among African Americans are usually in the low single figures.

Trump has been trying to reach out to African American voters in recent weeks and is holding a televised town hall on the subject with Fox Newss Sean Hannity airing Wednesday evening, which was scheduled to be taped earlier in the day.

In an extract released on Wednesday afternoon, Trump came out in favor of a nationwide stop and frisk program. I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to, said the Republican nominee. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see whats going on here, I see whats going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk.

Stop and frisk, the practice of New York police officers to stop passersby, question them and check for weapons, was found unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013 who held it to be illegal racial profiling.

The Republican nominee faces a number of obstacles with African American voters, a traditionally Democratic demographic, including his longstanding insistence, seemingly dropped last week, that Barack Obama was not born in the US, and a history of housing discrimination lawsuits against Trump-owned real estate projects. He is hoping to overcome this with his message about jobs.

The Republican nominee also answered a question from Scott about the police shooting on Friday of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher was an unarmed African American who had his hands up.

Trump, who is running as a self-proclaimed law and order candidate, suggested that the officer involved choked.

The Republican nominee said that after watching the video, to me, it looked he did everything youre supposed to do and he looked like a really good man.

He added: This young officer, I dont know what she was thinking … but I am very troubled by that. These things are terrible, in my opinion. He went on to ask: Did she get scared? Was she choking? Maybe people like that, people that choke, they cant be doing what they are doing.

Additional reporting by Tom McCarthy in New York

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/21/don-king-donald-trump-cleveland-rally


‘They just don’t fit in’: UCLA study links racism and segregation in Orange County

Previous evidence of racism in countys segregation only anecdotal but respondents say parking fees and homeowner association rules support segregation

It was another sun-kissed afternoon in Huntington Beach this week, the seafront a playground. Surfers skimmed the waves. Volleyballers leaped and shrieked. Sunbathers splayed on the sand. Families paraded the boardwalk.

Almost everyone had brown skin, though really they were white, just with tans. Those with permanent brown skin, Latinos, were mostly miles inland, on the other side of the 405 freeway.

Its called life. In this world, no one gets along, so you hang out with your own kind, said Ruben Montanez, 54, in shorts and shades, perched on a bench.

His heritage was Puerto Rican, but Montanez did not identify with, nor yearn to see, the absent Latinos. Huntington Beach was fine just as it was. When a neighborhood goes downhill, people leave.

There is little chance the social services worker will feel forced to flee his home, at least not on account of Latinos.

Orange County, a cluster of cities and freeways tucked between Los Angeles and San Diego, is known for being white and politically conservative. Californias Republican bastion, it helped launch Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who called it the place where all the good Republicans go to die.

It led the states crackdown on illegal immigration in the 1990s. A sub-group of neo-Nazi surfers acquired notoriety for daubing swastikas on boards. The Real Housewives of Orange County, a reality TV show, has bolstered the impression of a white enclave.

In fact, over the past two decades, the county has become diverse to the point that whites are no longer a majority. They make up 44% of the population of 3 million, with Latinos comprising 34% and Asians 18%.

But melting pot it is not. Most whites live in tracts that are at least 60% white, many of them coastal cities such as Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente. The inland city of Santa Ana, in contrast, once predominantly white, is now 78% Latino.

Economics explains much of this. Whites are wealthier and can afford pricey coastal real estate. Most Latinos cannot. Many observers have long suspected racism, too, but the evidence has been anecdotal.

Now there is an academic study bolstering the case that racism does indeed fuel the segregation. Celia Lacayo, a postdoctoral scholar at UCLAs Institute of American Cultures, has published a report titled Latinos Need to Stay in Their Place: Differential Segregation in a Multi-Ethnic Suburb.

It is based on in-depth interviews with 40 white residents in 2010, conducted by two white researchers Lacaya contracted to encourage candour. The random sample was aged 25 to 61 and mostly middle to upper class professionals involved in law, real estate, sales and marketing.

A small sample, but with striking findings. The respondents overwhelmingly characterized Latinos and African Americans as culturally deficient, problematic and inferior, according to Lacayo. They used words like trash, third world and gangy.

Laurie
Laurie Anaya, a Latina with a white husband, laughed off the fact that neighbors used to assumed she was the maid. The maids thought it, too. Her friend Marilyn Johnson, 48, said her children were half-Mexican and had never encountered racism in Huntington Beach. Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

Asians, in contrast, were deemed assimilated to white American norms and values. The Asians come in and theyre freaking motivated. Hispanics arent, said one respondent. Asians seem to be more proper, cleaner and conservative, said another.

Many residents, Lacayo found, have split the county between the relatively diverse north and the whiter south, with freeways functioning as a Mason-Dixon line. People made intentional decisions to keep it so, she wrote. Most respondents admit that they made a conscious choice to live in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods, and far away specifically from Latinos.

Examples included a 42-year-old repo company owner named Mark. Hispanics, they just dont fit in, he told the researchers. The Mexicans go to the beach, and I dont know why they always swim in their clothes … They have a wet dirty blanket and theyll drag it, and theyll stop on the boardwalk. Theyll just stop there. And its like: Get out of the way. How stupid are you?

In an interview this week, Lacayo said whites used parking fees, homeowner association rules and gated communities to deter unwanted visitors and settlers, even middle-class Latinos. They resisted the transport of Latino children to white-majority schools and expressed willingness to withdraw their children from integrated schools.

Those interviewed by the Guardian on the boardwalk a very unscientific sample of teenagers, fortysomethings and pensioners bristled at any suggestion of prejudice. Its not segregation. We all get on. Its just that people are more comfortable with their own culture, said one 15-year-old girl.

Ask a Mexican and you get a very different perspective. Not just any Mexican – Gustavo Arellano, editor of the alternative magazine OC Weekly and author of the syndicated column Ask a Mexican!, which answers reader queries about Latino stereotypes.

Donald Trumps head the remnant of a piata smashed at a protest rally when the presidential candidate visited Orange County adorns the entrance to Arellanos office. Which is apt, because the papers first Latino editor swings an ax at the countys record.

Arellano, 37, has delighted and enraged readers by denouncing the absence of blacks and referring to Santa Ana as SanTana, the way Latinos pronounce the citys name. Trolls routinely assail Arellano (and still ask about Latinos wearing clothes in the sea), but public discourse has evolved, he said. Were beyond the era of outright racism. No politician is stupid enough to be that blatant anymore. They code it as about illegal immigration.

He thinks the old Orange County is dying, giving way to millennials who were reared by Mexican maids and eat Mexican food. Which makes them half Mexican. Progressive, artsy types who used to flee the Stepford Wives-type vibe were now staying to create a new Orange County, he said. You have to fight the belly right in its beast.

Gustavo
Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly, holds the remnants of a Donald Trump piata. Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

The Orange County Register recently crunched census data showing the region had become slightly more diverse since 2000, largely due to Latinos and Asians moving into white areas. The median of the Diversity Index, a statistical tool, nudged from 48 to 54, meaning that in a typical neighborhood there is a better than even chance that two random residents will belong to different ethnic groups. But unless whites move to Latino areas such as Santa Ana, which demographers say is unlikely, the metropolis will remain segregated.

Still, even Huntington Beach yields little surprises. Richard, a 35-year-old longshoreman who declined to give his last name, was in a Mexican restaurant tucking into a taco. White male, blue-collar job, from a family of Trump supporters. But he himself loathed the GOP candidate.

So did somebody else in his neighbourhood, he smiled, showing a photo on his phone: a car with a Trump sticker vandalised with spray paint. Fuck Trump. Trump Chump.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/19/ucla-study-racism-segregation-orange-county


Obama’s nomination of first Muslim federal judge praised by advocates

Abid Qureshi was selected to serve on Washingtons US district court weeks after Donald Trumps remarks that Muslim judges could be biased against him

Barack Obama has taken the historic step of nominating the first Muslim candidate to become a federal judge.

The announcement comes just weeks after White House candidate Donald Trump made controversial remarks that it was possible, absolutely that Muslim judges could be biased against him.

US judges who are Muslims have served at state level but never the echelons above as appeals, federal or supreme court judges, according to Muslim Advocates, a national advocacy organization.

Abid Qureshi, a litigation and pro bono specialist practicing in Washington, was put forward on Tuesday night to serve on the federal judiciary at the US district court for the District of Columbia.

I think its past time for an American Muslim to be nominated as a federal judge. Im absolutely thrilled, Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, told the Guardian on Wednesday.

Khera had lobbied both Obama, during a meeting at the White House in 2015, to nominate a Muslim to the federal bench, and Qureshi to apply, she said.

A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included, she added.

The selection of Qureshi, who was born in Pakistan and settled in the US as a young child, became the latest milestone in a significant increase in judicial diversity under Obama.

Since becoming president, Obama has led a push to nominate more women, African American, Latino, Asian American and openly gay judges.

Of Qureshi, Obama said: I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.

Qureshi, 45, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1997 and is a partner at the US legal giant Latham & Watkins.

A statement issued by the firm said: Abid is an exceptional litigator He practices with the highest level of integrity.

The firm said it was declining media requests to interview Qureshi.

In his commercial work he specializes in litigating healthcare fraud cases. But he is more widely known for pro bono work. He has been the head of the firms pro bono committee since 2012. And since 2015 he has served on the DC Bar Associations legal ethics committee.

Khera said: Every judge brings their legal and real-life experience to the job and this countrys jurisprudence is strengthened by diversity on the bench but a persons faith has no place in the consideration of whether they are qualified to be a judge. He has represented Americans of all faiths.

She said Latham & Watkins provided pro bono co-counsel on a recent civil rights lawsuit in New York that prompted a court to lift the local transportation authoritys block on satirical ads promoting a documentary about American Muslim comedians.

Khera and other experts pointed out, meanwhile, that the timing of the nomination shortly after Trumps comments was undoubtedly a coincidence.

The nominating process takes many months, said Christopher Kang, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and a former deputy assistant and deputy counsel to Obama.

He praised Obamas selection of Qureshi.

The presidents candidates continue to be the most diverse nominations for the federal judiciary in history and he has sent a powerful message, whether to those who are thinking of applying to be a federal judge or just someone considering a legal career in the future that you can do so regardless of your gender, race, sexual orientation or religion, he said.

Kang said it was vital for the judiciary to reflect the diversity of American society, as well as act as role models.

He added that Trumps remarks about Muslim judges were racist and offensive. The Republican presidential candidate made the remarks in June, having announced last December that as president he would ban Muslims from entering the US.

The June comments followed on from his lambasting the California federal judge Gonzalo Curiel and demanding he be recused from presiding over a class action lawsuit against the defunct Trump University, because of his Mexican heritage.

The furor about his statement on Muslim judges actually served to highlight the lack of any such individuals serving in the upper levels of the judiciary.

But even if the timing of Qureshis nomination has nothing to do with the political storm stirred up by Trump, Qureshi will have to survive the politics in Congress if he is to be confirmed by the Senate.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/07/barack-obama-muslim-judge-abid-qureshi


ACLU suing US over law that could let software discriminate by race or gender

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes technology terms of service legally enforceable, which the ACLU says can be used to hide illegal activity

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the US Department of Justice over a law that it argues bars researchers from investigating whether software is being used to discriminate against people by race, gender and age.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act includes a clause that makes software and hardware makers terms of service legally enforceable, which the ACLU says can be used to hide illegal activity.

The act makes any unauthorized access to a computer illegal and prevents academics and researchers from testing a system by using aliases or fake IDs.

By allowing tech companies to essentially write legislation, the ACLU wrote in a complaint filed in Washington DC district court on Wednesday, the government allows those companies to chill research that has exposed systemic financial discrimination by using dummy accounts to test variables such as race, gender and age. Those accounts generally violate terms of service restrictions.

The complaint says that tests for fairness often involve a measure of dishonesty, especially when auditors want a truthful answer to questions of bias. In the offline world, pretending to want a job or a home to learn about discrimination is specifically legal. This testing involves pairing individuals of different races to pose as home- or job-seekers to determine whether they are treated differently. The law has long protected such socially useful misrepresentation in the offline world, according to the suit.

But online, say the plaintiffs, terms of service prohibit misrepresenting your identity. Moreover, terms of service change often enough and are obscure enough that ticking the little I agree box can let defendants in for a world of hurt if the Department of Justice deems them bad actors and decides to prosecute them.

And the issue has become more pressing as data brokers organizations that compile huge troves of information about private citizens through their credit card statements, online activity and loyalty card purchases, among other means have few qualms about making race-based inferences. According to a 2014 report from the Federal Trade Commission, data brokers often focus on minority communities with lower incomes, giving those communities names like Urban Scramble or Mobile Mixers which, the report says, include a high concentration of Latino and African American consumers with low incomes.

Provided to retailers, real estate brokers, employers and financial institutions, this kind of demographic breakdown enables discrimination, the ACLU argues.

The problematic nature of this has been it raises problems for a whole host of parties not before the court, said Esha Bhandari, staff attorney for the ACLUs speech, privacy and technology project. The government is given the discretion to use the CFAA to add on charges where they believe theyre prosecuting bad actors. But if the act of violating services is criminal under the CFAA, people we dont consider bad actors are criminals.

As the ACLU has begun to focus on data-mining practices, Bhandari said the organization has heard researchers express concern that by testing for discrimination, they are breaking the law.

Bhandari pointed to US v Drew, the 2013 case in which criminal charges were brought against an adult woman named Lori Drew, who messaged Megan Meier, a classmate of her daughters, using a false name on MySpace. Meier killed herself after receiving bullying messages from Drew; Drew was convicted of violating MySpaces terms of service.

The Department of Justices prosecution of Drew, Bhandari said, had nothing to do with MySpace and everything to do with its low opinion of Meier, and the pursuit of the case endangered anyone trying to maintain their privacy on social media.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/29/aclu-sues-justice-department-software-discrimination


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