Tracking down Dick Davy, a mysterious "lost" comedian who once championed civil rights and antiracism

Jason from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast writes, "I've spent the last eight years interviewing people from Rachel Bloom to Harry Shearer about their favorite vinyl comedy albums on my podcast, 'Comedy on Vinyl.' A few weeks ago, inspired by the brilliant podcast 'Mystery Show,' I decided to do something new, as I attempted to uncover the true identity and life story of long-lost comedian Dick Davy. A character comic, a white guy who won over The Apollo, and a civil rights activist who later settled into obscurity, Dick Davy's story temporarily took over my life and renewed my faith in comedy as a potential agent for change." (MP3) Read the rest

Police lobbyist: cops will not be motivated to stop crime unless they are allowed to steal people's stuff

South Carolina cops love the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the police to seize any property they believe represents the proceeds of a crime and keep it, unless the property's former owner hires a lawyer to prove the innocence of their goods: more than $17m was seized last year, and in a fifth of these cases, no one was convicted of a crime (71% of the people whose stuff gets stolen by South Carolina cops are Black). Read the rest

Black Batman: an origin story for an alternate superhero

Jamelle Bouie (previously), has proposed an alternate Black Batman, with an accompanying background story that goes beyond race-switching Bruce Wayne and instead looks at the cultural and racial politics of America and finds exactly the right niche where a Black vigilante in a mask would fit. Read the rest

Afrofuturist artist creates gorgeous portraits with Deep Dreaming

Wagner James Au sez, "AI algorithms, as AOC recently pointed out, often have a racial bias inherited by their creators, to the point where some can't even 'see' people of color. Afrofuturist Nettrice Gaskins teaches Deep Dream's AI to be aware of great black faces on a deep level." Read the rest

An archive of Freedom, Paul Robeson and Louis Burnham's radical Harlem newspaper

Freedom, published in Harlem during the Cold War and McCarthy years, was Paul Robeson and Louis Burnham's radical black paper that "ppenly challenged racism, imperialism, colonialism, and political repression and advocated for civil rights, labor rights and world peace"; NYU's Freedom archive holds browsable (but not searchable, alas!) scans of issues with contributions from "W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry" and many others. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

An interactive timeline of race categories in the US Census

Every ten years, the US government is constitutionally mandated to carry out a census: the first census, in 1790, only counted "the head of household and the number of free white males, other free persons and slaves in each household." Read the rest

Google donated $5k to GOP Senator who "joked" about attending a lynching with her Black opponent

Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Mississipi GOP Senator is going into a runoff election against her Democratic opponent, Black man named Mike Espy who might end up the first Black Mississipi Senator since 1883; she made headlines last week with a joke about attending a "public hanging." Read the rest

Thunder Bay: podcast about Canada's hate crime and murder capital is a cross between Serial and Crimetown

The remote north Ontario city of Thunder Bay leads Canada in murders and hate crimes and features a local government mired in scandal, from a mayor who was charged with extortion to a police chief who went on trial for obstruction of justice. Read the rest

3D print this Harriet Tubman stamp and fix all those twenties that Mnuchin forgot to take Andrew Jackson off of

As of 2020, Harriet Tubman -- revolutionary anti-racist hero -- was supposed to replace Andrew Jackson (authoritarian, genocidal stain on the American project) on the $20 bill, with Jackson moving to the other side of the bill as a sop to racist idiots. Read the rest

Edward Snowden on Malkia Cyril, a multigenerational black rights activist on the front lines of the surveillance wars

For its 25th anniversary, Wired Magazine asked numerous luminaries to pick a figure from the digital world to celebrate; Edward Snowden chose EFF Pioneer Award Winner Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice and cofounder of the Media Action Grassroots Network, who is one of the leaders in teaching grassroots activists to resist government surveillance. Read the rest

School apologizes for promo photo manipulated to darken students' skin for "diversity"

Art school Émile Cohl in Lyon, France formally apologized after students noticed that a group photo on the school's United States promotional web site had been manipulated to make several of the people appear to have dark skin. The manipulated photo is at the very top of this post. Below it is another image, without the alterations, from the same series of snapshots. From The Guardian:

Antoine Rivière, the college director, told L’Express he was only made aware of the altered photo when he was contacted by some fifth-year students who appeared in it.

“We had sent a certain number of documents to an American communications agency in order to highlight our college,” he said. One of the photographs had been doctored without the school’s knowledge...

The school is planning to open a branch in the US in the near future.

Read the rest

IBM developed NYPD surveillance tools that let cops pick targets based on skin color

The NYPD's secretive Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center uses software from IBM in its video analytics system, which allows cops to automatically scan surveillance footage for machine-generated labels that identify clothing and other identifying classifiers. Read the rest

Access Restricted: revolutionary teens escape the domes of All Rights Restricted and try for universal liberation

In Gregory Scott Katsoulis's All Rights Reserved, we had a thrilling YA adventure in a world where ever word is copyrighted and every person over 15 wears an unremovable surveillance cuff to bill them for their speech; in the sequel, Access Restricted, we follow the surviving heroes outside the claustrophobic confines of the Portland dome and into the wider world, to DC, the wastelands beyond, and finally to Tejico, the semi-colonized, semi-independent nation made up of Mexico and Texas, where a way out of this terrible world may be found.

Law and Order Republicans have suddenly discovered the undeniable injustice of "flipped" prosecution witnesses

Ken "Popehat" White, a former US Attorney turned criminal defense attorney, notes that the Republican outrage about "flipped" prosecution witnesses is awfully self-serving (given that Trump's bagman Michael Cohen and hushup capo David Pecker have both seemingly turned state's evidence), they have a point, as countless black and brown and poor defendants have discovered in their journey through the American justice system. Read the rest

TSA racially profiles Muslim woman, makes her show her bloody sanitary towel

Harvard grad student Zainab Merchant is detained and invasively searched every time she flies; she's tried extensively to end this harassment, applying for Global Entry and Precheck, writing to her members of Congress, and trying to run through the DHS's Redress procedure. Read the rest

Prisoners in 17 states are on strike, demanding an end to prison slavery and basic human justice

For the second time in two years, America's prisoners have staged a mass, coordinated strike, demanding an end to slave labor for incarcerated people, channels for redress of grievances, an end to racial discrimination in the American penal system, access to rehabilitation programs, the reinstatement of Pell grants, the right of ex-prisoners to vote, and the right of rehabilitated prisoners to be paroled. Read the rest

Florida's prisons change tech providers, wipe out $11.2m worth of music purchased by prisoners

For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 -- nearly double the going rate in the free world. Read the rest

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