*Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and his Revolt TV presented a two-hour-long town hall titled “State of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus.”
Several artists, politicians, and activists made remote appearances for the live-stream to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on urban communities.
The online event also highlighted the health disparities in America.
As noted by Complex, in Michigan, Black Americans make up 15 percent of the state’s population, but account for a third of confirmed coronavirus cases and around 40 percent of virus-related deaths. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Blacks make up a third of the demographic, but account for 70 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Chicago also claims Black folks are dropping like flies from COVID-19.
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Thank you, @Diddy, for hosting this town hall last night. There’s a lot at stake for our communities right now and it’s critical we bring to the forefront how coronavirus is perpetuating racial inequality and health disparities.https://t.co/mPFYcIhsFD
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 10, 2020
Many believe the endless reports that the contagion is infecting and killing African-Americans at disproportionately high rates is simply political propaganda aimed to ultimately make Black folks the guinea pigs for COVID-19 vaccine testing.
“You look at what’s happening in terms of documenting longstanding health disparities (among African Americans) … asthma, 20 percent more likely to have it; high blood pressure, 40 percent more likely to have it; lupus, black women are three times more likely that white women to have it,” Sen. Kamala Harris said at the beginning of the town hall. “And this disease, this coronavirus, attacks people who otherwise have health conditions. So, we’ve got a lot at stake.”
Harris went on to note how black people do not have the option to work remotely, as many are essential workers who are risking their health to help keep America afloat during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot to address, a lot to talk about, a lot to fight for …” Harris continued. “We’re gonna get through this, because we’re all in this together. And, again, thank you to all the leaders for being a part tonight.”
You can watch the town hall via the YouTube above, featuring appearances by Meek Mill, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Big Sean, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Killer Mike, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and more. CNN commentator Van Jones served as the co-host for the event.
“This was my first time doing something like this, I appreciate everyone who tuned in. Part 2 coming soon. LOVE,” tweeted Diddy.
Black Republican Running for Congress Files Complaint Against Facebook, Twitter and Google
*Aja Smith, a Black Republican running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, has filed a complaint against Facebook, Twitter and Google.
In her grievance dated Oct. 6, 2020, and addressed to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, Smith accuses the three California-based tech companies of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by supporting Democratic candidates.
Smith, who is on the ballot to represent California’s 41st congressional district, which covers an area in Western Riverside County, also claims that those companies engaged in “shadow banning” of her and other conservatives. Shadow banning, she says, involves manipulating a digital platform’s algorithm to hide certain posts from end users.
“We’re seeing more censorship when people post their own opinions, and they’re good opinions,” Smith said. “I see them getting shadow banned on Twitter and Facebook.”
Smith said she first noticed the practice around the last presidential election.
“I saw this starting back in 2016 as conservatives were getting more active on Facebook. A lot of things were being censored when we started talking about being pro-life, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment. And I saw it beginning to happen more and more over the years.”
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President Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of social media companies that censor conversations on their platforms. In May, Twitter hid one of the POTUS’ tweets, claiming it violated their policy about glorifying violence.
That same month, President Trump issued an executive order aimed at social media platforms after Twitter added a fact check link to another of his posts about mail-in ballots.
“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech Americans may access and convey on the internet,” the executive order reads. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and undemocratic.”
Currently, sites like Twitter and Facebook are protected by law when they block content that they deem violent, offensive or “otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” The president’s executive order makes the argument that these protections should be removed if a tech platform engages in hiding or placing warnings on posts, setting the stage for legislation or new federal regulation aimed at those companies.
“It’s really bad if even our own president is getting censored on Twitter and Facebook,” Smith said.
Earlier this month, Twitter announced that it removed fake accounts of people pretending to be Black conservatives and supporters of President Trump.
This week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today a letter urging Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to do more to stem disinformation on their platforms that could “harm the upcoming U.S. election.”
“In 2016, we saw a concerted campaign to use social media to amplify disinformation in order to disrupt our election,” he wrote. “As a country, we must reject these tactics. As Californians begin voting in another election of national importance, I’m calling on our technology giants to do everything in their power to put a stop to election interference. These companies should take responsibility for their role in spreading misinformation and voter suppression.”
Smith keeps her focus on the censorship. She, along with other conservatives, insist that digital media platforms should be investigated, and the government should reevaluate their status.
“Either you’re a free speech platform or you’re a publisher,” Smith said.
Last week, the progressive publication Mother Jones reacted to news that Facebook’s adjustment of its algorithm in 2017 in an effort to stem misinformation, specifically targeted certain left-leaning publications, reducing significant amounts of traffic to them. The effort led to the company losing more than $600,000 over 18 months.
“One reason this is so enraging is that I’ve so long insisted on giving Facebook some benefit of the doubt. I was convinced we were a random casualty of their broader trajectory, a fly on their windshield. But it’s always, always worse,” Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones, tweeted.
Smith believes that the tech companies are targeting some conservatives specifically because of their race.
“They’re really suppressing our free speech; especially candidates who are trying to get our messages out — not only to our constituents, but also to a lot of other people across the country to say ‘hey, we’re running, we’re conservative, we’re minorities, we’re running in blue states and we’re here to make a difference,’” Smith said.
Many conservatives have discussed making the move to another social media platform called Parler, a micro-blogging service popular among far-right conservatives and Saudi nationalists that allows users to moderate their own content as opposed to a tech platform regulating posts it classifies as hate speech or misinformation.
While Smith says she appreciates the freedom of self-moderation, she does not want conservatives isolated in an echo chamber only speaking to each other.
“I don’t want to stick to one social media platform where I’m talking to people who are all like-minded,” Smith said. “I want to speak to people on the Independent side, the no-party preference side and even moderate democrats. I want to say, ‘Hey, I’m different than my opponent and this is what I stand for,’ especially on fighting sex trafficking and fighting homelessness.”
Smith also mentioned how Twitter and Facebook have made it difficult for her to speak to her supporters about her opponent, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA-41), whose relationship with Ukraine she has questioned.
Smith says she also takes issue with Facebook and Twitter’s fact checking practices, claiming that they, “remind me of Nazi Germany.” She also claims that the social media giants rely on sources that are “far-left leaning” to support their fact checking and that they “change historical facts.”
“How are you fact checking what I’m saying, and you’re only using the sources that you think will justify my post or anyone else’s post as wrong?” Smith said. “That’s the problem. That’s why we have open debate.”
Smith feels that if her posts, and posts from others like her, did not face these challenges, many voters would get a clearer picture of the current Republican party.
“We’re beating the narrative that there aren’t any conservative minorities and that we’re the party of racists,” she says.
Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media
Shonda Rhimes Says Clash Over Disneyland Ticket Lead to ABC Exit: ‘I Felt Like I Was Dying’
*Shonda Rhimes has detailed her decision to leave ABC and the straw that broke the camel’s back was a request for a Disneyland pass.
For 15 years, Rhymes created TV magic (and made history) at the network, with shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” She reportedly make more than $2 billion for Disney, but had a constant battle with ABC, which is owned by the studio. The writer producer tells The Hollywood Reporter that her creativity was limited at the network
“I felt like I was dying,” she said of her work producing nearly 70 hours of annual television. “Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.”
The final nail in the coffin was hammered in 2017, over a pass to Disneyland.
Here’s more from Us Weekly:
As part of her contract, the showrunner had an all-inclusive pass and had negotiated a second one for her nanny. However, her pass was not interchangeable so when her sister needed one to take Rhimes’ daughter to the park, she had to go back and forth with the network and was told, “We never do this” multiple times.
The park eventually issued her an extra pass — which would have cost $154 — but it didn’t work when her family arrived at the park. Rhimes then called a “high-ranking executive,” who allegedly asked her, “Don’t you have enough?”
With that, she called her lawyer and asked to exit ABC to go to Netflix. Rhimes later inked a deal with the streaming giant worth $150 million.
In August, she announced her new deal, saying, “Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan [Netflix CEO] Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company.”
Her statement continued, “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for—the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation.”
Shonda’s first two projects with Netflix include a documentary about Hollywood icon Debbie Allen (releasing Nov. 27) and the period drama “Bridgerton” (releasing Dec. 25).
Black Woman Dubbed Trump’s ‘Nodding Lady’ Claims Trolls Are Targeting Her Employees
*The Black woman who was in President Trump’s camera shot at last week’s Town Hall on NBC, nodding in agreement with just about everything he said, became instafamous and the target of Anti-Trump trolls.
Mayra Joli, the Miami lawyer who the Internet dubbed “nodding lady,” said her employees have been receiving hate messages urging them to quit.
“The more they trashed him, the more I wanted to find out more about him, and I’ve been supporting him since. The rest is history,” Joli told Fox News. “Donald Trump taught me that I cannot just be silent, and I have to think for myself.”
Since the event, Joli said her employees have received phone calls from friends and family urging them to quit because of her political views.
“Nobody can call an employer to fire me. What they’re doing is calling my employees so they quit,” Joli said.
“They start sending other [messages] saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re working for that person. I thought you were better,’” she added. “I am a fighter, but [my employees] have a private life. They aren’t used to this commotion.”
Haters are also targeting her business in online reviews.
“Somebody’s going to see that review, then see the career I’ve led helping people, so I don’t need that client,” Joli said.
As a native of the Dominican Republic who transplanted to the U.S., Joli claims America “gave me everything my country couldn’t give me, but I didn’t escape my country,” said Joli, who worked at Hooters before completing her law degree. “I left my country because the corruption was larger than the island itself.”
Joli came to America in the ’90s and donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
As an attorney, she has encountered more and more undocumented immigrants trying to become naturalized citizens.
“They were coming to me, telling me, ‘I want to fix my situation because of Donald Trump.’ I told them, ‘No, you want to fix your situation because of you.’ The fact that Donald Trump is the president means nothing because with or without Donald Trump … nothing will change. It just prolongs your agony. You have to find a way to fix it, and that’s why attorneys are there,” Joli said.
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