Grindr removes ethnicity filter

Grindr, a popular hookup app, yesterday announced it was removing its "ethnicity" filter.

Announcing the change, Grindr said it had a "zero-tolerance policy for racism and hate speech" on its platform.

It's a problem Grindr long ignored, but something has forced its hand. The BBC's Ben Hunte says because white users have started speaking out:

But some are angry that it has only happened as a result of white people speaking up on social media. Indeed, the most-shared social media posts written to shame Grindr into action were posted by white gay men.

This means that it's just a resolved PR issue to Grindr, not the start of a different approach to related issues. For example, it's likely that the ethnicity filter hid problems with algorithmic racism that will now be readily apparent to searchers Read the rest

University gift shop displayed black leader dolls by hanging them from a model tree

A Michigan State University gift shop displayed a collection of miniature dolls of black leaders like Michelle Obama and Harriet Tubman by hanging them from a small tree. Upset by this extreme insensitivity, grad student Krystal Rose Davis-Dunn says she asked the staff if they noticed anything wrong with the display but they apparently did not. After Davis-Dunn posted a photo of the display to Facebook, the university apologized. From CNN:

"We were made aware of an inappropriate and insensitive display at the Wharton Center gift shop which used a tree-like rack to hold historical black figures," Michigan State University spokeswoman Emily Gerkin Guerrant said. "Regardless of the intent of the display, its impact cannot be ignored -- people were hurt and offended."

Davis-Dunn told CNN she had initially asked the gift shop's employees if they thought anything was wrong with them, but they said no. "They're black people hanging from trees," she said. "I mean, lynching? It was just not registering with them."

The incident is the latest in a string of racial insensitivities on Michigan State University's campus in the 2019-2020 school year.

Read the rest

Two years after a federal law banning shackling women during childbirth was passed, prisoners in America are still giving birth in chains

In 2010, the UN adopted a rule regarding incarcerated pregnant women: "instruments of restraint shall never be used … during labour, during birth and immediately after birth." In 2018, the Federal First Step Act banned shackling pregnant women, women giving birth, and women caring for newborns; but the law does not extend to local and state jails, where 85% of the incarcerated women in America are locked up. Read the rest

Chicago PD's predictive policing tool has been shut down after 8 years of catastrophically bad results

In 2012, Chicago PD collaborated with the RAND Corporation and the Illinois Institute of Technology to automatically generate "risk scores" for people they arrested, which were supposed to predict the likelihood that the person would be a "party to violence" in the future (this program was called "TRAP" -- Targeted Repeat-Offender Apprehension Program" -- seemingly without a shred of irony). Now, that program has been shut down, and the City of Chicago's Office of the Inspector General has published a damning report on its eight-year reign, revealing the ways in which the program discriminated against the people ensnared in it, without reducing violent crime. Read the rest

White nationalists who got a $2.5m payout from UNC abuse the DMCA to censor lawyer's trove of documents about it

T. Greg Doucette is the North Carolina litigator who sleuthed out the incredible, bizarre details of the decision of the University of North Carolina's Republican-appointed governors to hand a group of white nationalists $2.5m to build a Confederacy museum. Read the rest

White woman interrupted a Broadway talkback to call the playwright "racist against white people."

Jeremy O. Harris's Slave Play is meant to be provocative—certainly moreso than most other Broadway productions that transfer from Off Broadway theatres. The play itself is about a group of interracial couples who go to a kind of psychosexual couples' therapy that involves BDSM, reflecting Antebellum master-slave dynamics. During previews, the show even hosted a "Black Out," or a dedicated performance for black audiences, so they can enjoy and discuss the play without worrying about the reactions of white people around them.

As such, it's not surprising that it might make some white people (and others) uncomfortable; that is, after all, the purpose of provocative art. But it reached a head after the Friday night performance on November 29 during a post-show talkback hosted by the playwright:

Apparently, the unnamed woman missed the whole part of the play about white people taking up space and centering things around themselves. She yelled at Harris for—in her words—"being told as a single woman I'm not good enough to fucking raise [my own children]," and asked, "How the fuck am I not a fucking marginalized member of this goddamn society?" Read the rest

Meet the Krazy Klown Kavalcade of racists, homophobes, islamophobes and transphobes serving as appointed South Carolina magistrates

South Carolina's system of appointed magistrates allows the state senate to appoint "judges" with no legal training, some of whom cannot pass a basic competency test on the first try, to hear over 800,000 cases a year; the magistrates are appointed and re-appointed without a background check (there's also a loophole that let some judges escape even that reappointment hearing, serving for 20 years without undergoing the process), allowing them to serve even after grave judicial misconduct. Read the rest

Amazon secretly planned to use facial recognition and Ring doorbells to create neighborhood "watch lists"

Ring is Amazon's surveillance doorbell division, and a big part of their sales strategy involves terrifying people about the possibility of crime, partnering with police to assist in terrorizing Ring owners, and to provide police with warrantless, permanent, shareable access to surveillance doorbell footage (something the company has repeatedly lied about). Hundred of police departments have now partnered with Ring and they act as buzz-marketing teams for the company in exchange for freebies and access. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's plan to denazify America

Elizabeth Warren has released a characteristically detailed campaign plan to counter white nationalist violence in the USA, whose multi-pronged approach includes directing the DoJ to be more vigorous in pursuing white nationalist groups (and to lay off the Cointelpro-style surveillance of groups that advocate for protections for racialized people); centralized data collection on white nationalist violence; FBI assistance in local investigations of white nationalist groups; global collaboration to disrupt international white terrorist organizations; purges of Nazis in the US military; using background checks to deny firearms to members and supporters of violent white nationalist groups; reforming school curriculum to head off white nationalist trends; creating an interagency task-force to combat white nationalism; and to "combat violent extremist content on the Internet in a manner consistent with freedom of expression" (a neat trick if she can manage it). Read the rest

Cop violently arrests and terrorizes a 15 year old Black quadruple amputee

A sheriff's deputy in Pima, AZ was video-recorded wrestling with and screaming at a 15 year old Black teenager with no arms or legs; the cop, who was not named, was called to a group home where the teen lived, because the teen had been upset and yelling and shouting, and had knocked over a trash can. Read the rest

White supremacists record video at the new, bulletproof Emmett Till memorial sign

In 1955, a white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham falsely accused a black child named Emmett Till of making sexual advances towards her; a group of Mississippi men then kidnapped, tortured and lynched Till, an act that they never faced criminal consequences for. Read the rest

Podcast of Affordances: a new science fiction story that climbs the terrible technology adoption curve

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my short story "Affordances," which was commissioned for Slate/ASU's Future Tense Fiction. it's a tale exploring my theory of "the shitty technology adoption curve," in which terrible technological ideas are first imposed on poor and powerless people, and then refined and normalized until they are spread over all the rest of us. Read the rest

Out today: a two-volume, slipcased edition of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, introduced by Gloria Steinem and Toshi Reagon

As part of the renaissance in interest in the glorious science fiction novels of afrofuturist pioneer Octavia Butler (previously), Seven Stories press has just released a two-volume, slipcased set of Butler's fantastic post-apocalyptic adventure novels The Parable of the Sower (with an introduction by Gloria Steinem) and The Parable of the Talents (with an introduction by Toshi Reagon). Read the rest

Les gilets noirs: a French protest movement defending migrants' rights

The gilets jaunes/yellow vests protest movement mobilized in France over a slate of grievances, led by President Macron's plan to meet emissions targets by punishing poor and a rural people, while dealing out massive favors to the country's wealthy elites. As the movement spread around the world, it took on different characters: sometimes lefty, sometimes right-wing, sometimes explicitly racist. Read the rest

The wonderful You Must Remember This podcast returns to tell the secret history of Disney's most racist movie, Song of the South

Song of the South is one of the most obscure and most popular of all the Disney movies: despite the fact that Disney has not made it available for a generation, the movie is the basis for the "Splash Mountain" flume rides at the Disney parks, and the movie's theme, "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" remains a familiar anthem. Read the rest

Buy a Circuit Playground Express and a second one will be donated to Black Girls CODE

Phil from Adafruit writes, "For a limited time, whenever you buy a Circuit Playground Express the regular price of $24.95 here, on this page, Adafruit will automatically donate one to Black Girls CODE. Black Girls CODE's goal is to empower young women of color ages 7-17 to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders + creators. Read the rest

The complicated, nuanced story of how racialized French people fought to save their local McDonald's

On NPR's always-excellent Rough Translation podcast comes an incredibly complex and nuanced story (MP3, transcript) about marginalized, racialized people in public housing in Marseille who found an accepting haven in a local McDonald's franchise, and who banded together to save it -- and other nearby McD's -- in a series of direct actions ranging from occupation to threats of self-immolation. Read the rest

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