What was intended to be an homage to Sen. Maxine Waters (CA-43) turned messy real quickly, after news site AJ+ referred to her as “sassy.”
The Al Jazeera-owned website posted a video with the caption, “Meet @MaxineWaters, the sassy Congresswoman leading the fight to impeach President Trump.” The word “sassy,” historically used to stereotype Black women, was also used in the video text, calling Waters the “sassiest woman in Congress.” It took no time before Twitter comments castigated the news outlet for the faux pas. Many called for the site to take down the video and tweets altogether. People reacted on social media with comments supporting Waters as well as scolding Al Jazeera. One tweeted: “Calling women in politics ‘sassy’ is bad idea. She is a courageous, extremely smart, insightful, powerful politician.”
Confronting its slavery-tinged past, Yale University says it will change the name of the residential college of White supremacist John C. Calhoun for computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, also known as “Amazing Grace.” The decision was a “stark reversal” of the university’s decision last spring to keep the name in an effort not to “erase history,” according to The New York Times. “I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Yale President Peter Salovey said. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.” Calhoun, the nation’s seventh vice president, attended Yale and was its valedictorian. Calhoun College, which opened in 1933, was decorated with depictions of slaves carrying bales of cotton, and derisively referred to as the “Calhoun Plantation.”
Over the summer, a Black dishwasher in Calhoun smashed a stained glass windowpane that depicted slaves working on a plantation, because he found the image degrading. He was offered another job at the university after students and faculty rallied around him. Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale, died in 1992. “Humans are allergic to change,” she once said. “They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that.”
A 19-year-old became the youngest eligible woman ever to run for office in Georgia, after she won a legal battle on Feb. 9 to compete in a local city council race, reports The Huffington Post. State law requires that candidates be 21 to seek office, unless a city charter notes otherwise, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. The DeKalb county board of elections ruled that Mary-Pat Hector could run, because the Stonecrest City Charter simply says that candidates must be over voting age. Her opponent had challenged her candidacy, saying she was too young. “Justice was served, and the law prevailed. The board’s decision is a testament to the inclusion of the next generation’s participation in the democratic process,” Hector said in a statement. A Spelman College student and a youth coordinator with the National Action Network nonprofit, Hector said that she ran to give more young people a voice. “Young people are starting to really understand and see that they can truly be a part of the political system and they can truly run for office,” she told CBS 46. She also expressed confidence to the station that she could balance her responsibilities being a student and a politician. The city council election is on March 21.
The Chicago police officer who shot and killed a college student and his downstairs neighbor by mistake will face no charges in the two deaths, reports The Root. The Cook County District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the officer on Feb. 10, saying there was insufficient evidence that the officer was not acting in self-defense. On the day after Christmas 2015, Officer Robert Rialmo shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and his neighbor, Bettie Jones, 55, a mother of five, after LeGrier called police in a dispute with his father. LeGrier was shot six times and Jones, who had been standing behind him, was shot once in the chest. Rialmo and his partner were responding to four 911 calls—three by LeGrier and one by his father. Two 911 operators who hung up on LeGrier twice were suspended without pay. Jones, a downstairs neighbor, answered the door and pointed the officers to LeGrier’s apartment. Before the officers could act, LeGrier came down the stairs wielding an aluminum baseball bat, according to the D.A.’s office. The officers reportedly began to back up onto the front landing and as they were walking backwards down the stairs, Rialmo’s partner tapped Rialmo on his back and told him to look out,” the state’s attorney’s office wrote in a four-page legal memorandum supporting its decision. “Rialmo drew his service weapon and fired eight shots toward LeGrier while backing down the front staircase,” it read. Yet, the families of Jones and LeGrier decried the decision, claiming that a witness saw Rialmo fire his gun, when he was on the sidewalk about 14-20 feet from where LeGrier was standing with the bat. The neighbor’s account is supported by physical evidence showing the shell casings from Rialmo’s handgun landed on the sidewalk, said attorney Larry Rogers Jr., who represents Jones’ family in a lawsuit.
While eating at Sammy’s Grill in Baton Rouge on Feb. 3, Kaneitra Johnson overheard something that spurred her to make a public Facebook post, reports The Griot. “I’m halfway on the seat and a Lyft driver is on the other half of the seat,” Johnson stated. “Then he asked for his jacket. All of a sudden I hear this older man behind me tell the Lyft driver, ‘You never give up your seat for a ngger.” He didn’t stop there either. He went on, “You should have made her get her fat ngger a up.” Police were called and when they came and questioned the older man who made the comments, it was revealed that he was Judge Mike Erwin of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court. The police took no action against him for his comments. That didn’t stop the manager of Sammy’s Grill, Andy McKay, from taking a stand once he heard about the incident. “I wasn’t there that night, so I can’t comment on the details, but I know police were called,” he said. “I can also tell you that the owner, Sammy Nagem, has made it clear that Judge Erwin is no longer welcome here. We will refuse his business,” McKay concluded.
The case against the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile has taken a surprising turn, reports The Griot. The judge who was presiding over the case has been removed. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the lawyers who are representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez asked that Ramsey County District Court Judge Edward Wilson be removed from the case. No detailed justification for his removal has yet been given. “We did our research, and based on our research, we chose to remove him,” stated Earl Gray, one of Yanez’s attorneys. “We felt that we had to remove him. Simple as that.” Attorneys in that state can request “the removal of one assigned judge per case without citing a reason.” When this happens, the request is automatically granted. With a case already so racially charged, this is noteworthy. Castile, a 32-year-old Black man, made headlines in July after he was fatally shot by police. His girlfriend live streamed the aftermath of the incident. In the video, Castile was shown to be complying with the officer’s instructions.
A leader of the Ku Klux Klan was found dead in suspicious circumstances near a Missouri river. He had been reported missing by his employer. The body, which was found on Feb. 11, has been identified as Frank Ancona, the self-described “imperial wizard” of a KKK chapter near St. Louis. According to his wife, he was last seen at his Leadwood home on the morning of Feb. 8. Malissa Ancona has stated that he was called to work in order to make an out of state delivery. He packed a bag and some guns and no one had heard from him since. Police say that his employer did not make any such call and it was his employer who reached out to police, when Ancona did not show up for work on Feb. 10. When police went to the home, they found a safe that had been beaten open with a crowbar and all of the contents missing. But burglary is not suspected. Police are also questioning Ancona’s wife. Ancona’s vehicle was found near the site of his body in Washington County. No arrests have been made and no suspects named.
Despite being banned from Madison Square Garden after an altercation with security and being called an “alcoholic” by New York Knicks owner, James Dolan, former Knicks power forward Charles Oakley says he doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. In fact, Oakley told the New York Post that he actually has been active in helping others, such as former New Jersey Net Jayson Williams with his battle with alcoholism. “[James] Dolan might think because I go to volunteer at Rebound Institute treatment centers with Jayson that I’m a client,” Oakley told The Post. “I’m just supporting the amazing work Jayson is doing. I’m not an alcoholic but Jayson is.” Oakley’s manager, Akhtar Farzaie, says that after Williams got his second DWI, Oakley was instrumental in getting his long-time friend into the Florida clinic, even driving 1,200 miles from Cleveland in his truck to check out the facility. Dolan, a recovering addict himself, recently said that he’s “sure” that Oakley has a substance abuse problem. Dolan’s accusation may have served as justification for banning him from the Garden. After a highly publicized incident last week, where Oakley was confronted by Garden security (the head of security was fired for the incident), the Knicks organization released a Tweet saying it hopes Oakley “gets some help soon.” Farzaie says that the burly former power forward actually volunteers at several treatment centers. He says that Oakley will also hold a charity golf event for the Rebound Institute in May.
Students at Connellsville High School thought it was a good idea to dress up for a “Hick Night” and shout taunts at Black basketball players during a game. Uniontown players were shocked, when the students at Connellsville chanted things such as “Build that wall!” and “Get them out of here” evoking comparisons to Donald Trump, with one student even holding a Trump campaign sign. The students sported camouflage, baseball caps and flannel shirts. Tosha Walton, whose son William Deshields plays on the Uniontown team, said: “It’s bringing us to tears to see the hatred. Things should not have gone this way at this game. I have never seen so many racist and hate-fueled comments, and it’s breaking my heart.” An assistant superintendent for the Connellsville school district, David McDonald, said that the school has apologized to Uniontown and that as soon as the athletic director was notified of what was going on, he stopped the behavior and spoke with the group of about 60 students, who were described as “wide-eyed” and “embarrassed,” when informed of how their actions were perceived. Uniontown parents said that the behavior continued until halftime, though the athletic director claims to have stopped it immediately.
Robert Lewis, a three-star general in the Army, is losing his stripes because of his apparent penchant for strippers. According to the Chicago Tribune, because he used an Army credit card in a strip club on two occasions, two of his three stripes are being taken from him. So instead of retiring as a three-star general, he will step down as a one-star general. The African-American three-star general was demoted in retirement for using a government credit card to patronize strip clubs and other “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman on multiple occasions,” the Army announced. A spokesperson said that Maj. Gen. Ronald Lewis, then senior military aide to former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, was bumped down to brigadier general in his retirement, the lowest-ranked general in the Army. Specifically, a report found that Lewis used a government credit card to spend $1,121.25 at the Candy Bar strip club in South Korea and $1,755.98 at the Cica Cica Boom strip club in Rome—both of which are allegedly often visited by prostitutes. Lewis later said his government card had been stolen, which led Citibank to forgive the charges in South Korea. Each of the cases arose while Lewis traveled with Carter as defense secretary.
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.