The NAACP and a Civil Rights group representing Asian American women are set to argue before the 9th Circuit Court this week, claiming that a state law banning race-based abortions illegally discriminates against ethnic minorities. The law, passed is 2011 and called the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas Prenatal Nondiscriminatory Act, actually prohibits doctors from performing abortions on women, if they suspect a woman is aborting the baby because of its race. Lawmakers noted that Black women have a disproportionately high rate of abortion compared to White women. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the NAACP and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, is suing the state of Arizona over the law, which they say promotes racial stigma and unconstitutional discrimination against Black and Asian American women. “These laws stem from racist stereotypes that Asian Americans do not value women and girls and that Black and Asian American women can’t be trusted to make our own reproductive health decisions,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF.
Kevin Hart hosted the second annual Diamond Ball, a black-tie fundraising event benefitting the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) presented by entertainer Rihanna and Samsung. The event, which took place at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, raised more than $3 million and featured a number of celebrity guests, including Will and Jada Smith, Kylie Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Zendaya, among others. After Rihanna presented Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, with the inaugural Diamond Honors Award, Lionel Richie took the stage for a performance. “When I launched the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, I was following the example of my grandparents, which had been passed down to my entire family,” Rihanna explained. “It’s simple—we care about each other and we help each other. That’s what I want to do for my global family, too, with a focus on health, education, art and culture.” Rihanna officially unveiled the Clara Lionel Foundation Global Scholarship Program at the event. The program will award full scholarships to highly motivated youth globally with recipients given the opportunity to receive an education anywhere in the United States.
A suspect in San Francisco who died in a police encounter never raised his knife at officers before being fatally shot 21 times, a lawyer for his family says. The family of Mario Woods, who was killed in a Dec. 2 encounter with police, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday. Following reports of a stabbing in the city’s Bayview neighborhood that day, several officers confronted Woods, who refused to drop the knife he was carrying. Police Chief Greg Suhr said that Woods had stabbed someone prior to the confrontation with cops. In a cell phone video released Friday by the family’s attorney, footage of Woods’ last moments shows cops surrounding the knife-wielding man. In the video, the police fire rubber bullets at Woods and use pepper spray, but he still does not drop the knife. The video shows Woods stumbling toward one side and the cops opening fire. Five officers fired a total of 21 shots into Woods. An investigation is underway.
Rochelle Robinson, 52, has been elected the first Black mayor of Douglasville. A former councilperson, she won the post in a runoff election to defeat former Mayor Harvey Persons. Robinson told The Huffington Post that the morning of the election, she read that 60 years ago on Dec. 1, Rosa Parks sat down on the bus in Montgomery, Ala. “I was just overwhelmed and that was the first thing that came to my memory: Rosa Parks sat down 60 years ago today, so that I could stand up in this city. I’m standing on so many shoulders. I did not get here by myself.”
An entrepreneur in Atlanta has launched a sneaker business designed to make custom-made sneakers for African American organizations and groups. Owned by Tariq Edmondson, Sneakerscustom.com is a new, innovative way to generate income for schools, organizations or anyone with aspirations of making their own sneaker brand. The first product launched is a black canvas sneaker with red and green trim. Inspired by the design of the Converse Chuck Taylor shoe, the sneaker is selling to conscious African Americans in the U.S., Caribbean and even the United Kingdom, Edmondson says. “My inspiration came about a year and a half ago. I saw all of the other big sneaker companies, and thought that a sneaker product featuring red, black and green would make an impact,” he explains. The company has created an distribution pipeline by selling direct to wholesalers and consumers via the website. The Sneakerscustom.com wholesale program features a low-cost system for other entrepreneurs to get involved in a fast growing business. The wholesale program offers 50 custom sneakers for $1,000. Each sneaker retails for $40, which allows the wholesaler to make a profit of $20 per pair. Info is available at www.sneakerscustom.com.
Two state Democrats have introduced legislation that calls for the removal of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Just hours after Emanuel apologized for the city’s handling of the fatal shooting by police of Laquan McDonald in 2014, Illinois Reps. La Shawn Ford and Mary Flowers (both of Chicago) introduced legislation that would amend a 1941 state law and allow the City of Chicago to hold a recall election. Currently, there is no city ordinance or state law that provides for a mayoral recall. Among the proposal’s several provisions is one stating that a recall petition would need to collect valid signatures totaling at least 15 percent of the number of votes cast in the most recent mayoral election. In the event of a successful recall, a separate election would choose a successor. Protestors have also called for Emanuel to resign as mayor.
Steve Locke, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, said he felt shaken after being racially profiled by the police last week. Locke said that he was out for lunch and driving to pick up some food when he noticed a police car following him. The officer pulled him over, Locke wrote in a blog. The policeman got out of the car, and approached him and said, “Hey, my man.” Locke said the officer had his hand on his weapon, so I automatically knew that something had happened and he wasn’t coming to talk to me as a citizen. He was coming to talk to me as a suspect,” Locke says. Although Locke fully cooperated, several other officers showed up on the scene and Locke was detained, as he was told he matched the description of a suspect who had committed a robbery in the area. Locke was clearly wearing his university ID. Eventually, he was let go with apologies from the officers. But Locke says the experience shook him up.
Marvin Banks, a suspect in the killing of two police officers, was found dead in his jail cell last week in Forrest County Jail. Banks, 29, was facing charges of capital murder in the fatal shootings of Hattiesburg Police officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. It’s believed he died of natural causes, says a spokesperson for the Mississippi Dept. of Public Safety, who added that there was no sign of blunt force trauma. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation will handle the investigation, which will include looking at security video from inside the jail and toxicology reports.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week delivered final passage of a resolution asking President Barack Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to boxing legend Jack Johnson. The legendary Black boxer became boxing’s first Black heavyweight champion in 1908, a title he held until 1915. He was convicted under the Mann Act in 1913 for transporting a White woman across state lines, a move considered illegal at that time which tarnished Johnson’s reputation and left him imprisoned for a year. The president is expected to sign the bill.
First Lady Michelle Obama has teamed up with “Saturday Night Live” cast member Jay Pharoah to rap about the benefits of higher education.”If you wanna fight crime, you should go to college/If you wanna write rhymes fill your head with knowledge/If you wanna stare at grass don’t go to college, but for everything else you should go to college,” Obama raps alongside Pharoah in the video. Produced by College Humor, the video was created for her “Better Make Room” campaign that is designed to inspire teens ages 14 to 19 to go to college.