Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Victoria’s Secret’s Racist Garbage Is Just Asking for a Boycott

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Last week, the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show was held in New York, recorded to air on network television on December 4. During the show, model Karlie Kloss wore a Native American headdress. Outrage at the offensive costume was immediate; over the weekend, Victoria’s Secret apologized and said the televised version of the show will not feature the headdress. But the cultural appropriation of Native American regalia continues.

Not again!

In September, the Native community sprang into action voicing our collective outrage after we were assailed by Paul Frank’s “neon pow-wow” fashion night, complete with war-painted employees and C-list celebrities donning feather headbands, armed with plastic tomahawks. In response, Paul Frank apologized, and the company pulled all Native imagery from their stores as well as online. They also announced that they will be hiring a Native designer to create a new line, with earnings going toward a Native charity.

Yet the barrage of attacks against Native American culture and identity continues to escalate. The usual parade of offensive Native American ‘costumes’ we’re typically forced to endure every Halloween was even more pronounced this year, as were the insults and racial epithets aimed at Natives who dared to demand respect for their Native identity, spiritual beliefs, and culture.

Just last week, No Doubt released a video for it’s latest single, “Looking Hot.” To our dismay, the video turned out to be little more than a Native appropriation extravaganza, paying homage to cheap, inaccurate, stereotypical Dime Store turkey feather accoutrements and the hypersexualization of Native women. Natives once again stepped up to the plate to defend their cultural dignity, and No Doubt apologized, pulling the video from circulation.

Now, Victoria’s Secret has upped the ante. Wednesday night, their fashion show featured model Karlie Kloss in a leopard print bikini accessorized with turquoise jewelry and fringe covered heels, strutting down the catwalk in a floor-length, feathered war bonnet.

As a Victoria’s Secret customer, I am livid. After years of patronage and loyalty to the Victoria’s Secret brand, I am repaid with the mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children. Well, I’ve got news for you, Victoria’s Secret. Consider yourself boycotted. Perhaps it’s time for us to resume the feminist practice of bra-burning. Regardless, this Native girl is ready to go commando.

Why is this practice offensive to Natives? Let’s peel away the layers of this tacky, racist onion. For one, Ms. Kloss has no business wearing a war bonnet at all. Not only is she not Native, she hasn’t earned the honor. Among my people, the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux), war bonnets are exclusively worn by men, and each feather within a war bonnet is symbolic of a brave act of valor accomplished by that man.

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Undocumented immigrant wants New York State to let him practice law

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

A Staten Islander who came to the U.S. from Mexico illegally as a 5-year-old is asking New York State to let him practice law.

Cesar Vargas, 29, graduated from CUNY School of Law with a 3.7 grade-point average and passed the grueling New York bar exam on his first try.

On Monday, he mailed his application to be admitted to the bar.

“I want my mom to be able to say, ‘My son is a real lawyer,’ ” Vargas said.

The decision is up to a committee at the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn.

Vargas expects his answers to two questions may trip up reviewers: “In what country were you born?” and “What is your immigration status?”

“I put ‘Mexico’ and ‘Without status, but see cover letter,’ ” he said.

If accepted, Vargas would be the state’s — and maybe the country’s — first lawyer without legal immigration status. But he may have to argue his case in court first.

Two other immigrant law graduates — a California man brought to the U.S. illegally as a kid and a Florida man who overstayed a visa — are also trying to get licensed. Bar associations in both states have punted the decision to courts.

Jose Perez, associate general counsel at Latino Justice, said his group is prepared to represent Vargas if the committee sends his case to court.

He believes Vargas has a better chance than the other two candidates.

“Each state sets its own requirements in terms of admission to the bar,” he said. “Here in New York, the requirements are basically you’ve graduated from law school, you’ve taken and passed the bar exam . . . and fit what’s called the typical good moral character.”

In Vargas’ bar application, he included letters of support from Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes — for whom he worked as an intern — and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

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Black Mobs Now Beating Jews in New York

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

If Chaim Amalek had his way, no one would know that mobs of black people are attacking and beating and robbing Jews in the New York area.

Or that they shout anti-Semitic epithets.

Or that they target Jews because “they don’t fight back.”

“Such information can only serve to heighten racial tensions between these two groups,” said Amalek, an alias for New York video blogger Luke Ford. “Let us all look beyond the issue of race (in any event a mere social construct) and instead celebrate our diversity.”

In this case, the New York Post saw a pattern that most other media outlets never see. To some, it was jarring.

“Anti-Jewish crime wave,” read the June headline about a series of recent anti-Semitic attacks. “In the most disturbing incident, a mob of six black teenagers shouting, ‘Dirty Jew!’ and ‘Dirty kike!’ repeatedly bashed Marc Heinberg, 61, as he walked home from temple in Sheepshead Bay (in June.)”

This is one of several black mob attacks on—and robberies of—Jewish people in Brooklyn over the last two years, leaving broken bones and life-threatening injuries in their wake.

The assaults are part of a larger pattern in the New York area and around the country: Black mobs assaulting, robbing, destroying property and creating mayhem—hundreds of times in more than 60 cities.

In February, four black people beat and robbed an Orthodox Jew in the New York suburb of Monsey. They were charged with hate crimes after it was determined they targeted the victim based on his religion. {snip}

Ford and others, such as MSNBC news anchor Melissa Harris-Perry, say the media should not report news if it makes black people look bad. But most racial crimes and violence from black mobs in the New York area are usually not reported—not by the mainstream media anyway.

Many of the commenters said the story should have identified the race of the miscreants—if only to protect the community from future mayhem. That was too much for “brooklynborn,” who said, “I am embarrassed for my fellow Americans who flaunt their racism so publicly. What they did was offensive, but the conditions of where we

On Staten Island in December, two police officers were hurt trying to control a mob of 50 black people attacking a single family home. Firefighters finally disbursed the crowd with fire hoses to get them away from the officers. Several pictures and videos show some of the action.

In May of 2011, more than two dozen black people on a “rampage … terrorized” a Dunkin Donuts. The “swarm mob” attacked patrons, destroyed the fixtures and stole food, reported the Daily Mailwhich published the story with pictures.

Last summer, a Bronx man said he was taunted for being white and beaten by a black mob on a subway. No charges were filed, and police refused to list it as a hate crime.

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Cyberbullying Laws Could Lead To Internet Censorship

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Because protecting copyright holders did not seem reason enough for American citizens to go along with total government censorship of the Internet with bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act, lawmakers have chosen a new vehicle for censorship: protecting children.

As many as five States — Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine and New York — are working to implement cyberbullying laws that critics say could make surfing the Web a legal minefield.

According to USA Todaythe legislation is aimed at “bringing our laws into the digital age and the 21st century,” said Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-N.Y.) who sponsored a bill to criminalize cyberbullying. “When I was growing up, you had a tangible bully and a fight after school. Now you have hordes of bullies who are terrorizing over the Internet or other forms of social media.”

Some examples of the State laws:

  • In Indiana, a proposed bill would give schools more authority to punish students for off-campus activities such as cyberbullying from a computer not owned by the school.
  • In Maine, a proposal would define bullying and cyberbullying, specify responsibilities for reporting incidents of bullying and require schools to adopt a policy to address bullying.
  • In Delaware, meetings are under way to decide how a new cyberbullying policy would regulate off-campus behavior.

Critics say that the new legislative trend toes the line of infringing upon free speech. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, told USA Today the movement in the legislatures and the courts is focusing on the disciplinary system and is shortsighted, saying: “You’re not going to be able to punish people into being more tolerant.”

Internet censorship in the name of protecting children was also proposed by SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-Texas) recently. Through the Protect Our Children From Online Pornographers Act (PCFIPA), Smith proposes some of the same measures included in his previous wildly unpopular attempt at Internet censorship.

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Toronto ‘rabbi’ Avraham David, led double life as NY immigration lawyer wanted in the U.S. for scam.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

To members of Toronto’s Jewish community he was Rabbi Avraham David, a Torah scholar and author.

But to U.S. investigators he was Earl Seth David, a New York lawyer they allege is behind one of the biggest immigration scams in American history.

David was extradited to the U.S. on Wednesday and appeared in a New York court, where he pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, making false statements to immigration authorities and money laundering.

But David, 47, was no rabbi. He’d fled the U.S. in 2006 as authorities closed in on his massive immigration scam.

They allege David made millions of dollars processing up to 25,000 falsified immigration applications.

David operated a law firm where he and his cohorts allegedly forged documents to bolster people’s applications to stay in the United States, including employment offers from phoney sponsors.

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Philly murder suspect arrested in NYC

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

 

Jorge Aldea, who was wanted for the Nov. 25 murder of Louis Chevere in North Philadelphia, was arrested Friday evening in Bronx, New York, police said.

Rosemary Fernandez Rivera, 33, who reportedly spoke to police as a witness in Chevere’s murder, died Monday night after being shot four times at point blank range while she was working at the Caribe Mini Market on Mutter Street near Westmoreland in North Philadelphia.

Police said the woman was likely targeted, because the shooter walked into the store and opened fire without turning his attention to two other employees, or taking any cash or merchandise.

Agents in the FBI’s New York City field office confirmed that Aldea, 23, was arrested without incident. However, details on the man’s connection to New York City were not immediately available.

 

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My Neighborhood White Supremacist & the Kosher Response to Hate

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

On Jan. 24, police arrested 19-year-old Anthony Graziano in connection with the recent firebombings of two New Jersey synagogues and a rabbi’s home. It’s the latest development in a busy season of anti-Semitic attacks that began in early November 2011, when a 40-year-old Jackson Heights man allegedly spray painted swastikas on several buildings in Queens. A few days later, someone added an “ew” on a sign at the Avenue J subway station so that the sign then read, “Avenue Jew.” On Nov. 21, a Jewish man was stabbed on a subway platform as his assailants allegedly yelled anti-Semitic slurs at him.

Among these very real acts of hatred in the New York area, Jews have been targeted in several allegedly “fake” incidents of hatred. The NYPD recently announced that the November firebombing of three cars in Midwood, Brooklynmay have been an insurance scam rather than a genuine hate attack. And David Haddad, whom police suspect may be responsible for a more recent spate of anti-Semitic graffiti, is Jewish. Police think he may have used the guise of anti-Semitism to settle personal vendettas.

 

Several days after the Midwood car fires, an “ew” appeared on a sign at the Avenue J subway station sign so that it read “Avenue Jew.” Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

These incidents are horrible, regardless of what motivates them, but they are manifestations of attitudes that are unfortunately all too prevalent even in the New York metro area, where an estimated 12 percent of individuals self-identify as Jewish, versus about 2 percent nationally, according to the most recent regional Jewish Community Studyand data from the North American Jewish Data Bank.

After an encounter with a white supremacist in my own neighborhood, I’ve realized just how commonplace intolerance can be in our daily life.

“Excuse me, but I think your shirt is racist,” I said to the stock clerk working the night shift at the Super Stop & Shop in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, as he placed items on the shelves.

As someone who prefers gentleness to confrontation, I’m still not sure what I was thinking when I decided to tell him that I found his “White Pride Worldwide” T-shirt objectionable. But there I was, steeped in righteous indignation.

A demonstrator representing a white nationalist group in Canada carries a flag depicting a Celtic cross surrounded by the phrase “White Pride Worldwide.” It’s the same logo that appeared on the stock clerk’s shirt and was popularized by Stormfront, a white nationalist website. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League classify Stormfront as a hate group. Flickr/Thivierr

He had bags under his eyes, a tattoo of a what appeared to be a naked woman on his forearm and an unkempt mop of gray hair.

He sized me up. “Do you shop here in February?” he asked. ”What’s the difference between me wearing this shirt and this store handing out pamphlets during Black History Month in February?”

“The symbol on your shirt is a symbol of hate, that’s the difference. That cross is on the flag of the Ku Klux Klan,” I said.

I wouldn’t find out until I looked it up later, but the Celtic cross with the slogan “White Pride Worldwide” is actually the symbol of Stormfront, a white nationalist website founded by a former Klansman. Stormfront is classified as a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

“What do you know about the Ku Klux Klan? You need to read a history book about this country after the Civil War. This conversation is over, I’m not interested,” he said, before walking away. Not exactly a victory for open-mindedness near the deli counter.

What really shocked me was that the diverse group of other supermarket employees didn’t seem to see anything wrong with an employee wearing a shirt bearing a white supremacist slogan. His manager, a Latino man, told me that when the stock clerk plays military parade songs on a portable radio in his aisle, they mock him by goosestepping to the music.

The next day, I called the store’s manager, and identified myself as a neighborhood customer and described the stock clerk’s T-shirt. The manager said he was surprised to learn about his employee’s attire. I inquired about Super Stop & Shop’s employee dress code. If cashiers and deli counter attendants are required to wear uniforms, I asked, why shouldn’t that policy be extended to stock clerks, especially when their attire might offend customers? He apologized and asked me not to contact the regional manager until he spoke with the employee in question. He called me back as promised later to let me know that the stock clerk would not be allowed to wear offensive clothing in the future.

After a request for comment from MetroFocus, Stop & Shop corporate spokesperson Arlene Putterman wrote in an email, “…this issue took place months ago and there was a misinterpretation of the tshirt design.” She added that, “the person was instructed not to wear any logoed tshirt in the store in the future.”

As the days wore on after the incident, I wondered, was I perhaps taking this T-shirt too seriously? Maybe sometimes a T-shirt is just a T-shirt?

I got my answer on Nov. 20, 2011, about one week after the Midwood car fires. I found a flyer on my windshield advertising a protest against a neo-Nazi cell that was operating in south Brooklyn. Out of curiosity, I walked the 15 or so blocks from my apartment building to the address on the flyer in Gravesend, Brooklyn. When I arrived, about 30 protesters had already gathered. They were associated with the Jewish Defense Organization, a group that advocates militancy and arranges self-defense classes and gun training for Jewish people. Their logo is of the Star of David with an Uzi sub-machine gun emblazoned across it.

The protesters were there to call for the eviction of a man suspected of running a neo-Nazi cell out of a basement apartment.

It turns out that the man allegedly running the neo-Nazi cell was the stock clerk from my supermarket.

Mordechai Levy, who organized the protest, told me he linked the stock clerk’s Gravesend address to posts on Stormfront’s online forums. (Later I  found a bit more information online about the stock clerk. In 2010, he described himself to a local newspaper as a “white nationalist” committed to preserving “the white race.”)

About 30 protestors organized by the militiant Jewish Defense Organization rallied outside the home of a suspected neo-Nazi on Nov. 20, 2011. Organizer Mordechai Levy, left, said that Jews should keep guns at home for self-defense. MetroFocus/Daniel T. Allen

At the protest, Levy shouted into a bullhorn, “One does not debate Nazis, one destroys Nazis,” and encouraged Jews to obtain legal guns for their homes. “Where do we send Nazis? To the cemetery!” he shouted.

Other protesters at the rally told me that the way to respond to anti-Semitism is with street justice. Joel Mechila, 22, came from a nearby Jewish enclave in Borough Park to support the rally. He said he’s encountered anti-Semitism on the streets in other neighborhoods and that he also supports taking the law into his own hands. He invited me to view a YouTube video in which he shatters the passenger-side window of a car driven by two young women he said were shouting “heil Hitler!” at him in Williamsburg.

But doesn’t calling for and responding to hatred with violence, even against white supremacists, perpetuate the cycle of hatred and violence? And, as the Midwood car burnings demonstrate, when there is even a possibility of “fake anti-Semitism,” do these types of reactions make sense?

It seems to me that Jews should respond to hate by working on strengthening our own community, rather than engaging with the haters.

Rather than lashing out at those who may be responsible for fomenting hatred, Jews should focus on celebrating and sharing our peoplehood. This sends a clear message to haters that we can be proud of our identity without discriminating or scapegoating others. In this way, we all become “brand ambassadors” — meeting violence with kindness and sharing the best our community has to offer rather than letting negative attention towards Jews dominate the headlines. This is the kosher response to hatred, and is the gold standard to which any community affected by bigotry must strive.

Several months after my initial encounter, I was walking home late one night and I nearly bumped into the stock clerk on the street. There was a tense moment as we looked at each other, as if we might finish then and there the exchange we started near the butcher’s block. Would he pick a fight? No. I think we both decided to let it be. We walked on.

What would be the point of provoking him further? He appeared closed to the idea that he could preserve his own identity in our pluralistic society without relying on symbols of hate. All I can do is live up to the ideals of my community and respect those of diverse backgrounds. And when I see those pamphlets being handed out at our supermarket during Black History Month, I’ll be sure to take one.

MetroFocus’ Daniel T. Allen is an active congregant of the Chabad of Sheepshead Bay and studied anti-Semitism and civil rights policy at the Baruch School of Public Affairs.

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German Play, ‘I’m Not Rappaport’, Angers Critics With Blackface Actor

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
German Play Blackface

A German play has sparked controversy by making a move characteristic of theatre’s painful past.

Berlin‘s Schlosspark Theatre features a white actor dressed in blackface to portray an African American character in its latest production
“I’m Not Rappaport,” BBC News reports.

 

The play, which is set in New York, tells the story of a friendship of two elderly men–one Jewish and one African American. But rather than finding a black actor to portray the role, the theatre group opted to paint the face of a white men, reminiscent of the minstrel shows that were popular in the U.S. at the turn of the twentieth century.

But the group denies any racist claims. Director Thomas Schendel told The Local newspaper that he wasn’t able to find a black actor to fit the role.

“Many older black actors come from the music industry, and that wasn’t a fit for the play as it wasn’t a musical,” he said. “When we couldn’t find an elderly black actor who fit the role and could speak with a perfect German accent, we opted for blackface make up.”

But critics dismissed his reasoning.

“There are more than enough black actors in Germany, especially in Berlin.” spokesperson for the Initiative for Black Germans, Tahir Della, said. “Schendel is making excuses.”

Although the history of minstrel shows is not as prevalent in Germany, this isn’t the first time the country has had a controversy over the use of the practice, which Schendel called a “part of a theatre tradition.” In September 2011, a billboard featuring a German comedian with blackface containing the words ‘I am an Obama’ caused outrage worldwide.

Schendel said he had no intentions of being associated with any kind of racial insensitivity.

“I tried to make a play about racism and ended up being called a racist.”

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Long Island police investigate swastika drawn on garage door in Sea Cliff

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Long Island cops are hunting the vandals who drew a swastika on a garage door in Sea Cliff.

Nassau County police say the 63-year-old resident of the home discovered the Nazi symbol over the weekend.

Police say it was drawn in black marker sometime between between 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.

The incident is being investigated as aggravated harassment.

Police say a school, park and three homes were the targets of similar vandalism in Sea Cliff between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30.

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White Supremacist Targeted ADL’s Foxman

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

A white supremacist who was arrested after informing his wife that he planned to kill Jews and blacks may have had plans to target the leader of the Anti-Defamation League, the FBI said.

Danny Lee Warner, 33, was arrested Wednesday outside a McDonalds in Arizona the day after his estranged wife received a letter postmarked December 19 saying he planned to kill “niggers and Jews” until the government “stopped him.”

According to the police, Warner’s wife and his Internet-browsing history suggested that he may have also hoped to head to New York and target the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman. The day Warner was arrested, the ADL sent out a security alert to Jewish organizations warning them that they could potentially be targeted.

Photographs provided by the police showed Warner giving a Nazi salute.

According to law enforcement, Warner had been a leader of the Silent Aryan Warriors, a white supremacist organization, while serving 10 years in a Utah prison.

The Associated Press reported that Warner was charged with violating his parole, weapons charges in Arizona, possessing stolen property in California, as well as other unspecified federal charges.

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