- Created on 19 September 2013
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: New York CIty Police officers stand near a demonstration against the city's 'stop and frisk' searches in lower Manhattan near Federal Court March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images) | Getty
The New York City Police Department's use of the stop-and-frisk tactic has so badly damaged some communities' trust in police, according to a new study, that many young people won't report violent crimes.
The Vera Institute of Justice conducted a survey of 500 men and women in five "highly patrolled" New York City neighborhoods-- Jamaica in Queens, East Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York in Brooklyn, and the South Bronx--who were between the ages of 18 and 25, and who had been stopped by police at least once.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed, according to the report, encountered "an officer who threatened them, and 46 percent said they had experienced physical force at the hands of an officer." Twenty-five percent said they'd been involved in a stop in which a cop has drawn a weapon.
An alarming 44 percent said they'd been stopped repeatedly by police officers--at least nine times. Some even reported being stopped more than 20 times. (Here's The New York Times video profile of a young Brooklyn man stopped over 60 times.)
Only 29 percent of respondents said they'd been informed of the reason for being stopped.
Eighty-five percent said "illegal items such as weapons, drugs, or open containers of alcohol were never discovered during a stop they had been involved in"-- which matches up with the NYPD's own statistics. Eighty-nine percent of those stopped last year weren't arrested or issued a summons.
All of these factors, the study finds, contribute to a lack of young people's trust in New York's finest. "Our main finding is pretty plain and simple: Stop-and-frisk is compromising the trust needed for public safety," Jennifer Fratello, lead researcher for the study, told The New York Daily News.
Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they believed their community did not trust the police. Only 40 percent said they'd be comfortable asking the police for help if they were in trouble.
Sixty percent said they would not talk to police even when they were the victim of violence.
The majority of those surveyed were black or Latino. In 2012, the NYPD stopped 533,042 people, 87 percent of whom were either black or Latino.
A federal judge ruled last month that the NYPD's use of stop and frisk was unconstitutional and amounted to widespread racial profiling. She appointed a federal monitor to oversee the department. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says stop and frisk keeps guns off the street and saves lives, appealed the ruling.
The New York City Council also passed two bills last month to rein in the NYPD's use of stop and frisk. One bill sets up the office of the inspector general, which will act as a watchdog over the department. The other bill makes it easier for New Yorkers to sue if they've been profiled based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Created on 19 September 2013
A lack of "literary value" has apparently left Ralph Ellison's landmark 1952 novel, Invisible Man banned from school libraries in Randolph County, N.C., the Asheboro Courier-Tribune reports.
According to the Tribune, a parent of an eleventh grader wrote the school district expressing her disapproval of the book's availability to students stating:
The narrator writes in the first person, emphasizing his individual experiences and his feelings about the events portrayed in his life. This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read, without their knowledge. This book is freely in your library for them to read.
As the school district's policy requires, the parent's complaints lead to votes on the school and district levels. Both held that the book should remain available to students in the library. However, in a 5-2 vote, the school board voted to ban the book, with one board member, Gary Mason, stating, "I didn't find any literary value."
Mason's blunt assessment however, runs counter to decades of intellectual criticism of the novel, which won the 1953 National Book Award for fiction, beating out Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and John Steinbeck's East of Eden.
In 1995, writing for the New York Times, Roger Rosenblatt praised the novel as a masterpiece.
"Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," which won the National Book Award in 1953, was instantly recognized as a masterpiece, a novel that captured the grim realities of racial discrimination as no book had, " Rosenblatt wrote. "Its reputation grew as Ellison retreated into a mythic literary silence that made his one achievement definitive."
Including the book in its list of 100 Best English Language Novels since 1923, Time literary critic Lev Grossman also expressed great admiration for Ellison's work.
"Evenhandedly exposing the hypocrisies and stereotypes of all comers, Invisible Man is far more than a race novel, or even a bildungsroman. It's the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century."
Still, this kind of high praise wasn't enough to prevent the book from being banned from school libraries in Randolph County, N.C.
- Created on 19 September 2013
London (CNN) -- The girls strutting down the runway in The Savoy Hotel share many features - all are long-limbed, fine-boned and have glowing complexions. A silent army marching to the heavy music, past the front row A-listers peering out from behind their dark glasses.
But one girl is different: the only one with black skin in a battalion of white faces. Nadja is one of the few black models lucky enough to make this year's cut for London Fashion Week.
The lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry is a serious issue that needs to be tackled, according to supermodels Naomi Campbell and Iman, who this month launched a campaign to raise awareness of racism in the industry.
"The absence of people of color on the runways and photography reinforces to our young girls that they're not beautiful enough, that they're not acceptable enough," said Iman, model and wife of David Bowie, to CNN.
"The diversity that we live in, the world that we live in, is not what is shown on the runway. That to me is the concern. It's a bigger issue at large than just about runway and models."
Campbell and Iman, in a campaign spearheaded by former model agent Bethann Hardison, have written to the major fashion councils of New York, London, Milan and Paris calling for an end to racism.
The "Diversity Coalition," as the trio has named itself, identifies the fashion houses which "consistently use one or no models of color" in their runway shows - including Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Rodarte. "No matter the intention," their letter says, "the result is racism."
CNN reached out to each of those companies for comment, but has received no response.
Runways getting whiter
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Campbell says the situation for black models has become worse - not better - since her debut.
"When I started modeling in '86 there was Asians, blacks, whites, Indians, Chinese. It was very diverse," Campbell told CNN. "It's not like that today. It's heart-breaking to me that we're in 2013 and we're sitting here talking about this. But it has to be done and people need to know."
The numbers speak for themselves.
At New York Fashion week in February, only 6% of designs were shown on black models, according to statistics compiled by blog Jezebel. The vast majority of runway spots (82.7%) went to white models, with a growing proportion of Asian girls (9.1%).
In London, renowned model agent Carole White, who managed Campbell's career for 17 years, says designers here also tend towards white models for their shows.
"I think clients have this perception that black girls do not sell products, which goes way back to the 50's. I think it's engrained in every magazine editor. There are more products for blonde and blue-eyed girls. Everything is geared to that."
White has only 13 black models on her books, out of the 300 or so girls she manages. She says the bar is set much higher for black models and they have to be flawless to get booked, so she cannot afford to take them on.
"We're more discerning about the type of black girl we take, because we know they have to be stunningly beautiful, have an incredible body. "
"They have to be actually perfect" she says, whereas white girls, can be more quirky-looking.
Back at The Savoy Hotel, Nadja is walking for Temperley London as one of only three non-white models in the cast. She feels lucky to get work, but says it's harder for black models compared to their white peers.
"When I come to a show the hairdressers are not really ready for a black girl, for black hair. The makeup artists, they don't know how to do black skin. I can feel it sometimes - to be a black girl it's a bit tougher than for a white girl or a European girl."
Nadja says she sometimes feels like the token black girl in a show.
"I would love to be booked for shows ... because I am me - for my personality, for the person, for the model I am and not because I will be the only black girl for the show."
This tokenistic attitude towards diversity is something Campbell, Iman and Hardison are trying to tackle. But designers complain that they don't have enough good black models to choose from.
"There are not enough models coming to castings that are black," designer Alice Temperley told CNN. "That's basically not having the choice."
Iman also criticizes casting directors and stylists for their part in providing too few black models to designers. She says it's an attitude that has to change.
"I don't want to ever hear again a young model telling me that [casting directors] have said to her: 'We are not seeing black models this season.' To me that's offensive. To me that's a racist remark."
The Diversity Coalition hopes that by getting the conversation started and raising awareness of the lack of black models, they will force out discrimination from all corners of the industry.
Campbell says they'll keep speaking out until they see real change that lasts from season to season.
"We don't want this to be a trend. We want this to last."
In this famously fickle industry, these three women have a fight on their hands.
- Created on 19 September 2013
Jawaan McCullough, left, and Jaleesa Martin, center, and lawyer Kristi Davis speak during interviews following an appeal hearing regarding their son's name at Cocke County Chancery Court on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, in Newport, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)
NEWPORT, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee woman will be allowed to name her 8-month-old son "Messiah," a judge ruled Wednesday, overturning an order from another judge who said the boy's name should be changed to Martin because "'Messiah' is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ."
Jaleesa Martin said she couldn't believe it when child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew last month ordered Martin's 8-month-old son's name changed during a paternity hearing. The parents were disputing the baby's surname, with Martin hoping to keep the name she had given him — Messiah Deshawn Martin — and father Jawaan McCullough wanting the baby to bear his last name.
Ballew surprised both parents by ordering that the baby's name change to Martin Deshawn McCullough, saying that the name Messiah was not in the baby's best interest. Her written order stated that "'Messiah' is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ," and "Labeling this child 'Messiah' places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill."
She also said that the name would likely offend many residents of Cocke County, with its large Christian population.
That decision quickly made international news, and the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Ballew with the state's Board of Judicial Conduct. The board has not yet made any public ruling on the complaint.
At an appeal hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court on Wednesday, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety overturned Ballew's decision, finding that she acted unconstitutionally.
Forgety said that there is no basis in the law for changing a child's first name where both parents are in agreement about it. He also said that Ballew's decision violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
By agreement of the parents, Forgety ordered the child's name to be changed to Messiah Deshawn McCullough.
Speaking after the hearing, Jaleesa Martin said she found Ballew's original ruling "ridiculous" and had been confident it would be overturned.
She never stopped calling the baby Messiah, a name she picked out because she liked the way it sounded with the names of her other two sons, Micah and Maison, she said.
Martin and McCullough were both in the courtroom along with several family members, including Martin's mother, who wore a T-shirt with the names of the three boys printed on the back next to tiny footprints.
"Everybody's just happy," Martin said after the ruling. "I'm glad it's over with, and I know they are too."
Martin's attorney, Kristi Davis, said after the hearing that she was not surprised by how much public interest there was in the case, calling it "a reflection of the fact that we, as Americans, care about our civil liberties.
"I think it's truly a recognition by the citizens of our country that when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people that come in front of them, it's something that we don't like, and it's something that we pay attention to."