Category Archives: The New Jim Crow

Reports of Jim Crow’s demise are a bit premature…

The Chumph Continues With Central Park 5 Racism

The Central Park 5 case was the gold standard of wrongful convictions in the United States. Five teenage boys were beaten, threatened, and coerced into confessing a crime they didn’t commit. After spending years in prison, they were acquitted. The prosecution convicted them even though there was no DNA evidence, or even evidence the boys were near the scene of the crime, in a trial reminiscent of the lynchings in the South. Donald Trump played a major role in cheer-leading that lynching, calling for the death penalty for the boys in full page newspaper ads.

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Exclusive: Central Park Five Members Blast Trump for Insisting They’re Guilty

“He believes in everything he’s put out there—the racial vision he’s created.”

After Donald Trump reaffirmed his long-held belief this week that the men known as the Central Park Five were guilty in an infamous, decades-old rape case, two members of the since-exonerated group blasted Trump in interviews with Mother Jones, calling him a “stunt artist” and saying “he’s gotten worse” since his involvement in their 1990 conviction.

“You have a person who’s supposed to be a very intelligent business man, and what I’m sure he would do if he was trying to purchase a property is do his due diligence,” Yusef Salaam told me Friday, noting that Trump continued to ignore the facts of the Central Park Five case. “For somebody to still stand on the side of injustice like Donald Trump is, that becomes a very scary place to be.”

In a statement to CNN this week, Trump said he still believed the Central Park Five were guilty. “They admitted they were guilty,” he told CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were convicted of brutally attacking a young white jogger in New York City’s Central Park. The crime, which came at the height of the crack epidemic and skyrocketing crime rates, enflamed racial tension in the city. About two weeks after the incident, Trump published a full-page ad in four major New York newspapers calling for the teens to be brought to justice—and suggesting that they should face the death penalty. But in 2002, all five men—who spent between 6 and 13 years in prison—were exonerated based on DNA evidence and a confession from the actual perpetrator, whose DNA was shown to match evidence at the scene.Image result for Central Park 5 acquittal

Mother Jones talked to two members of the Central Park Five—Salaam and Korey Wise—about Trump’s role in their case, their thoughts on his presidential candidacy, and his latest comments about their case. Not surprisingly, neither is happy to see one of their main antagonists on the national stage day in and day out.

Salaam, who was 15 when he was jailed for the assault, said he believes Trump played a crucial role in the media campaign against him.

“[Trump] was one of the fire starters—really the main fire starter—because his name held a lot more weight,” he said. His ad facilitated “the conviction that was going to happen in the public arena prior to us even getting into the courthouse.”

Wise told me he only learned about Trump’s ad after watching a documentary on his case several years ago. After seeing it, he understood why the case had become so incredibly charged. “I said, ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!'” Wise said. “This is where a great deal of the energy that was directed at me in terms of physical threats” came from.

“The ad was talking about and goes specifically into fears that the public was having at that particular time,” Salaam told me. “He’s talking about how ‘we’ve had to give up our leisurely stroll in the playground, and we can’t ride our bikes, or we can’t walk around in the streets because now we’re hostages, ruled by the laws of the streets.'” Trump has revisited those themes in his presidential campaign, often citing gun violence in cities like Chicago as indicative of a breakdown in “law and order,” which he insists he can restore.

Salaam also suggested that Trump was a hypocrite for attacking Hillary Clinton over her “superpredator” remarks in the first presidential debate. “She well within her right could have said, ‘Well you took out a full-page ad calling for the execution—the lynching, the death—of young black and Latino men—and you have never apologized.'”

More than 25 years later, Trump hasn’t changed, Salaam said. “As a matter of fact, he’s gotten worse,” he said. “He believes in everything he’s put out there—the racial vision he’s created.”

For his part, Wise said he doesn’t think about what a Trump presidency would mean because he doesn’t take him seriously: “He’s a stunt artist…He follows publicity.”

But Salaam had a bleaker assessment of what the country would look like with Trump as commander in chief: “If he becomes president, what is that going to mean for the people who are losing their lives in the street? This ‘law and order’ is going to be a very, very scary thing for us as a people.”

From left: Antron McCray, Raymond Santana Jr., Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise in 2012 outside a theater before the New York premiere of “The Central Park Five.”


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Without Scumbag Scalia – The Supreme Court Hears Bias Cases

Without scumbag Scalia, the Supreme Court may actually come up with a non-racist Constitutional decision. Which is exactly why Republicans don’t want President Obama to appoint a replacement judge.

The REALLY bad news for the Rethugs is, Hillary may be replacing as many a 3 Justices in her first term…And the way the numbers are looking, there won’t be a damn thing they can do about it having sacrificed all right to any input.

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Supreme Court Hears Case On Racial Bias In Jury Deliberations

It’s only the second week of oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court and already the justices are on their third case involving race and the criminal justice system.

Tuesday’s case tests the constitutionality of widespread rules that bar courts from examining evidence of racial bias in jury deliberations.

The federal rules of evidence, as well as rules in most states, generally bar courts from hearing juror testimony about deliberations after a trial is over. Indeed, the Supreme Court just two years ago ruled that to allow an inquiry into jury deliberations would threaten the integrity of the jury system by inhibiting jurors’ discussions.

In that 2014 decision, however, the Court specifically said there “may be some cases of juror bias so extreme” that, by definition, the right to a fair trial “has been abridged.”

If and when such a case arises, the Court said, it would decide whether an exception is warranted.

That day has now come in the case of Miguel Peña-Rodriguez.

Peña-Rodriguez was a horse trainer at a racetrack in Colorado in 2007, when he was arrested after two teenage sisters, the daughters of a jockey, identified him as the man who groped them in a restroom at the barn.

According to the girls’ testimony, a man entered the bathroom, asked them if they wanted to party, and when they said “no” and tried to leave, he turned off the light, grabbed them, touched one of them on the breast, and the other on the shoulder and buttocks. The girls ran away, told their father what happened, and he identified Peña-Rodriguez from that description.

Later that night, police pulled Peña-Rodriguez over on the roadside, then brought the girls to the site, where they identified him, through a police cruiser window, as their assailant. Peña-Rodriguez was charged with one felony count of attempted sexual assault and three misdemeanors.

At trial, the prosecution’s case rested on the victims’ identification. The defense highlighted the short time the victims actually saw their attacker, the suggestibility of the night-time show-up, and the presence of other workers in the area at the time of the attack. It also presented an alibi witness, who testified that Peña-Rodriguez was with him in one of the other barns when the attack occurred. The alibi witness, like Peña-Rodriguez, was Hispanic.

The jurors initially deadlocked, unable to reach a verdict. The judge told them it was their duty to try again.

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After twelve hours of deliberation in all, and much shouting that could be heard outside the jury room, the jury found the defendant guilty on the three misdemeanor charges, but failed to reach agreement on the felony. The state subsequently dismissed the more serious charge.

Peña-Rodriguez was sentenced to two years probation, and required to register as a sex offender. He still trains horses at the barn.

But on the day of the verdict, while he went home, the defense lawyers, following the usual practice in Colorado and elsewhere, remained in the courthouse to speak with any willing jurors. Two jurors told them that during the deliberations one of the other jurors, identified in court records as H.C., had repeatedly expressed a bias against the defendant — and his alibi witness — because they are Hispanic.

With the trial judge’s permission, the lawyers then obtained affidavits from the jurors, in which the jurors quoted H.C. as saying that, from his experience as an ex-policeman, he knew that the defendant was guilty “because he’s Mexican” and “Mexican men … think they can ‘do whatever they want’ with women,” and that where he used to patrol, “nine times out of ten Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women and young girls.”

The affidavits also quoted H.C. as saying that the alibi witness was not credible because, among other things, he was “an illegal.”

In fact, the witness had testified at trial that he was a legal resident of the United States.

After receiving the affidavits, the trial judge ruled that there could be no questioning of jurors to see if a new trial would be justified because the Colorado has a rule barring inquiry into whatever happens in the jury room.

The Colorado Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, agreed.

Peña-Rodriguez appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where his lawyer will argue that in cases of alleged racial bias, if the trial judge cannot question jurors about their deliberations, the defendant is deprived of his constitutional right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury. Allowing an inquiry about racial bias is just as important, the defense will argue, as allowing an inquiry into jury tampering or whether outside information was brought into jury deliberations.

The state will argue that protecting the secrecy of jury deliberations ensures full and frank juror discussions, and protects public confidence in the jury system.

The defense will counter that more than 20 jurisdictions, from California to South Carolina, allow post-trial inquiry into racial bias on juries, and that such inquiries have existed in some states for decades without undermining the jury system.

The Supreme Court, now, will consider these arguments.

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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in The New Jim Crow


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The Trump Effect – The Re-emergence of Blatant Racism

It seems every day now, the racist crowd shows their behinds…

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Why so much blatant racism is bubbling to the surface

The firing of a teacher’s aide in Forsyth County, Ga., the censuring of a small-town mayor in Pennsylvania, the arrest of an East Tennessee State University student – all three after comparing black people to apes.

These recent examples of blatant racism have been met by swift public condemnation. Americans, on the whole, remain firmly intolerant of intolerance.

But shudders of racist sentiments in times of civil unrest are hardly new, and the current bout is noteworthy, say some ethicists and historians.

The racist speech is accompanied by an emboldening of white supremacist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan – which grew from 72 chapters in 2014 to 190 last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’ve been actively recruiting, leafleting lawns and sidewalks in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and California. And former Grand Wizard David Duke is running for the Senate in Louisiana, saying his platform has “become the GOP mainstream.”

The trend is partly a new age manifestation of age-old problems – in essence transferring what used to be anonymous wall scribbles to the center of the public square. Indeed, some are seeing the First Amendment right to free speech as an invitation to incite.

But in that way, social media – along with the racially charged nature of this year’s presidential election – are forcing the most entrenched forms of racism to the surface in new ways. While shocking to some to hear, the outbursts give a more accurate portrayal of how much further America needs to go to heal race relations – and can sometimes be a catalyst to accelerate that progress, some say.

“These remarks tell us there’s a strong strain of bigotry and racism still alive in our country,” says Gene Policinski, senior vice president for the First Amendment Center in Nashville. “Sometimes the function of free speech is to give us a true picture of society.”


The evolving shape of civility

The recent incidents have captured attention, but also spawned a backlash.

On Facebook, West York, Pa., Mayor Charles Wasko, has compared the Obama family to orangutans and has suggested President Obama should be lynched. He remains unrepentant, claiming a “witch hunt” against him. “The racist stuff, yeah, I’ll admit I did that, and I don’t care what people label me as,” he told WHTM-TV.

During an emergency town hearing on Monday, many residents said the tone of the presidential race is giving license to racist rhetoric. Pennsylvania state Rep. Kevin Schreiber (D) called Mr. Wasko’s Facebook outbursts “the legacy of angry, bigoted speech and rhetoric that is so quickly and casually spewed and circulated today.”

Meanwhile, school officials said a teacher’s aide in Georgia’s Forsyth County made repeated comments likening first lady Michelle Obama to a “poor gorilla.” The school district acted decisively to fire her.

For his part, the East Tennessee student was charged with one count of civil rights intimidation, a crime in Tennessee. He admitted to trying to provoke a largely African-American crowd to violence by wearing a gorilla mask and carrying a banana on a string, which he offered to black people, saying, “Here you go, sir.”

While extreme, in many respects, these incidents point to a debate over the shifting bounds of civility. They are in part a backlash against the perception of political correctness run amok. The rise in discussion on college campuses of “micro aggressions” (sleights caused by racial insensitivity) and “trigger warnings” (that warn survivors of rape or abuse of depictions in books, art, or movies that could “trigger” a reaction) is seen as a prime example of sacrificing robust free speech for cultural oversensitivity.

The incidents point to the growing willingness among some Americans to challenge these emerging social norms and boundaries. And Donald Trump, with his brash style, has helped lead the charge.

“What Trump has done is emboldened a number of individuals and groups who might hold similar views to express them in a way that would not have been socially acceptable only a couple of months ago, never mind a couple of years ago,” says Joshua Inwood, a geographer and ethics core faculty member at Penn State in University Park, Pa. “The election of Obama and [rise of] Trump has unleashed a whole set of discourses that were obviously prevalent in the United States of America, but were not given such mainstream play.”

To critics, the trend has simply been an attempt to find acceptable means of public expression for latent racism.

“Broader attacks on ‘political correctness’ are simply an attempt to hide the sentiment that whites are mad that they don’t get to speak any way they want to in offensive, horrible, dangerous, threatening and illegal ways about folks of color,” says Matthew Hughey, a University of Connecticut sociologist. “Trump is drawing from that well.”

The danger is that the incidents may not remain confined to verbal attacks. “Upticks of rhetoric … tend to end in some kind of violent outburst,” says Professor Inwood. …Read the Rest Here


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The New Jim Crow – Louisiana Makes It Illegal for Immigrants to Marry

If you are wondering about the sort of America the alt-right and Trumpazoids would put in place – look no further than Louisiana’s new Jim Crow Marriage law.

Louisiana isn’t letting immigrants get married

For an illustration of how cruel the country’s latest wave of nativism has grown, look to Louisiana.

Here, a little-noticed new state law has effectively made it illegal for thousands of refugees to get married.

It all started last year. Having lost the fight over gay marriage, the state’s religious right decided that the sacred institution of wedlock was once again under attack — this time, by devious immigrants. Undocumented workers and even terrorists had newly discovered they could exploit Louisiana’s marriage laws to gain citizenship, legislators claimed, leading to a supposed epidemic of “marriage fraud.”

The response? Make it more difficult for immigrants to get married, of course.

So, as of this year, any foreign-born person wanting to get married in Louisiana must produce both an unexpired visa (even though a federal court has ruled that marriage licenses cannot be denied based on immigration status), as well as, somewhat inexplicably, a birth certificate.

No birth certificate, no marriage, no excuses.

The law has indeed placed marriage off-limits to immigrants in the country illegally, as intended. But it’s hurt plenty of legal immigrants, too. Louisiana is home to thousands of refugees, predominantly Vietnamese and Laotians who received asylum in the 1970s and 1980s after fleeing war and communism in their homelands.

Today these Louisianans often have green cards and even U.S. citizenship, but no access to their original birth documents, if such documents even exist.

The law received little attention when it went into effect in January. Which means people such as Out Xanamane often learn about it only when they get turned away at the courthouse.

Xanamane was born in a village near Savannakhet, Laos, in 1975, the year the country fell to communism. Born at home, he never received a birth certificate.

He remembers little of his early childhood, except that there were bombs and land mines everywhere. In the decade before his birth, the U.S. military dropped 2 million tons of explosives on the tiny nation, making the country one of the most heavily bombed per capita in history.

Xanamane’s family arrived in Louisiana in 1986, after spending time in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. He has lived in the United States ever since and is now a U.S. permanent resident in the process of applying for citizenship.

It wasn’t until he got sick this summer that his lack of birth certificate was ever an issue.

In July, he was diagnosed with liver cancer, the same illness that claimed his brother’s life two years ago. The diagnosis meant a lot of changes for his family, the most pressing of which was he really, really needed the state to recognize his marriage.

Xanamane and his significant other, U.S.-born citizen Marilyn Cheng, were married in a Buddhist temple in 1997. But like many in the local Laotian community, they never sought an official marriage license, and never felt they needed to. They have called each other “husband” and “wife” for two decades, have four children and assumed they probably had a common-law marriage at the very least.

They didn’t; Louisiana doesn’t recognize common-law marriage.

The couple discovered this when Cheng’s employer, under whose health-insurance plan Xanamane was covered for the past two years, abruptly asked for a copy of their marriage license after bills for his cancer treatments came in. Suddenly all the marriage-related legal protections they’d taken for granted — health coverage, hospital visitation rights, Social Security survivor benefits — vanished.

Within days they went to the courthouse, armed with Xanamane’s green card, refugee documents and driver’s license. Twice they were turned away.

“They told me I have to go back to Laos and get my birth certificate,” said Xanamane, who has never returned to his country of birth. “But there isn’t any birth certificate there, either.”… Read the rest Here

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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in The New Jim Crow


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Ava Duvernay…The 13th

Director Ava DuVernay has a new documentary out called The 13th. The documentary is named after the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which ended slavery…

Except in one specific instance.

This interview with Ms Duvernay goes into more detail.



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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, The New Jim Crow


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Still Fixing the Bush Mess – Diversity as a National Security Imperative

Back during the Bush Administration era, the folks who brought us the 7 year futile search of incidents of discrimination against white people also brought us privatization of government. Black folks, due to the sometimes burdensome Government regulations which assured the highest level of employment access and anti-discrimination work for the Government in very high numbers. It is one of the few places where color isn’t a bar to getting a job or rising in the ranks.

Of course, Republicans could not let that continue. So they came up with the idea of privatizing government functions and jobs. Meaning, the hiring and promotion process would be left entirely up to private industry.This led to the whitening of the Federal workforce by several means.

1. The private companies weren’t subject to vigorous review of their hiring practices. A Republican Congress, Extreme Court, and Presidential Appointees fought to reduce or eliminate any penalty for racial or ethnic discrimination.

2. The “Gentrification” of jobs, making the educational and or post educational training requirements (Certifications) requirement substantially higher for the same job, making it more difficult for minorities to apply. This resulted in a number of low level jobs suddenly requiring college degrees, and specific industry certifications which were out of reach of many minorities financially.

3. Allowing contracting companies to easily deny that they couldn’t meet requirements by announcing there was a shortage of “qualified” minority companies or candidates.

This insidious racism also infected the Intelligence Agencies.

8 years later, the Obama Administration finally “gets it”.

Improving workforce diversity a ‘national security imperative’

Before we realized Bill Cosby’s halo was broken, he played a U.S. intelligence officer on NBC’s “I Spy.” There weren’t many black folks on television in the 1960s, and there is too little diversity among the spies and others in national security agencies now.

That’s why President Obama directed agencies “to strengthen the talent and diversity” of their organizations.

“Our greatest asset in protecting the homeland and advancing our interests abroad is the talent and diversity of our national security workforce,” said apresidential memorandum issued Wednesday.

National security agencies “are less diverse on average than the rest of the Federal Government,” including at the senior leadership levels, Obama said in the memorandum. “While these data do not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, we can do more to promote diversity in the national security workforce.”

Obama told the agencies to take a series of steps to improve diversity, including collecting, analyzing and disseminating workforce data, providing professional development opportunities and strengthening leadership accountability. He said his directive “emphasizes a data-driven approach in order to increase transparency and accountability at all levels.”

Wade Henderson, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, praised the data collection as “a necessary first step in recognizing the scope of the problem” to design appropriate solutions.

Obama pointed to the pervasive, insidious role of implicit bias, making “implicit or unconscious bias training mandatory for senior leadership and management positions, as well as for those responsible for outreach, recruitment, hiring, career development, promotion, and security clearance adjudication.”

In June, the Justice Department mandated implicit bias training for its law enforcement officers and prosecutors. In May, acting Office of Personnel Management Director Beth Cobert told federal officials that unconscious bias is a major barrier to diversity and inclusion.

Obama also wants agencies to interview a representative cross-section of staffers, including “exit interviews or surveys of all departing personnel to understand better their reasons for leaving.” That information will analyzed by demographics.

Increasing federal workplace diversity has long been a priority for Obama, as demonstrated by his 2011 executive order promoting diversity and inclusion.

This current effort was driven by National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice. During the last several months, she assembled national security officials in the White House situation room to discuss ways to promote diversity. Her May Florida International University commencement address largely focused on the need to improve national security diversity.

Quoting former Florida senator Bob Graham (D), she told the graduates the workforce is too often “white, male and Yale.” Noting that people of color are almost 40 percent of the nation’s population, Rice said they are less than 20 percent of senior diplomats and less than 15 percent of senior intelligence officials and senior military officers.

“I’m not talking about a human resources issue,” she added. “I’m highlighting a national security imperative.”

Vernon Jordan, a veteran civil rights activist and Washington insider, examined the CIA’s poor diversity record in a blunt 2015 report commissioned by the agency. The CIA went backward in at least one key diversity point during the 2004-2014 period, Jordan wrote in the forward to the 54-page report – the number and percentage of African American senior intelligence officers declined.

Jordan cited a “failure of leadership,” “a general lack of accountability in promoting diversity,” “the absence of an inclusive culture,” and “a deficient recruiting process.”

While racial and ethnic minorities were 23.9 percent of the CIA’s workforce, they were just 10.8 percent of the Senior Intelligence Service.

“The Director must also act promptly and aggressively to identify and promote senior minority intelligence officers to positions that will send an unmistakable message of change,” said the study Jordan led.

Pointed words. But it’s action that counts.

Rice understands that.

The United States, she wrote on the White House blog Wednesday, “must lead the world not by preaching pluralism and tolerance, but by practicing it.”



Posted by on October 9, 2016 in The New Jim Crow


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Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits” – A Response to Racial Profiling

You have to see these to believe them – they are incredible!

The why of their creation, is a much darker story.

Stunning ‘Soundsuits’ Address The Realities Of Racial Profiling In America

“The soundsuits hide gender, race, class and they force you to look at the work without judgment.”

Artist Nick Cave’s work is best described as an explosion of color, texture and noise. Born in Fulton, Missouri, in 1959, Cave is known for his soundsuits ― wearable artworks that can be displayed as still objects or incorporated into wild performances as costumery.

Drenched in electric hues and hallucinatory patterns ― and marked by their ability to produce sound when individuals like Cave don the elegant objects ― it’s easy to view the suits as whimsical ware. But, according to Cave, the suits are anything but “fun.”

“They come from a dark place,” he explains in Episode #239 of ART21. In fact, the fashion-infused sculptures originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the brutal treatment of Rodney King in 1992. Cave made his first suit shortly after video footage captured the unlawful beating of King at the hands of Los Angeles Police Department officers.

The suit was simple, consisting of a sheath of twigs that rustled as the wearer moved. Cave has since created around 500 subsequent suits, many more decadent than the original. Most, if not all, reflect on Cave’s identity as a black man, confronting his experiences with racial profiling and police brutality.

Cave says that his suits represent his desire to “lash out” in response to personal experiences, as well as sorrowful moments in American history. “And if I do, lashing out for me is creating this,” he explains in the video above, gesturing toward his work. “The soundsuits hide gender, race, class and they force you to look at the work without judgment.”

The “Here Hear” exhibition of Cave’s soundsuits was previously on view at Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum, the museum connected with the artist’s alma mater. In a previous interview with The Huffington Post, Cave described the city he once called home as vibrant and alive, but noticeably different from when he last attended school in 1989. He was, he explained to ART21, the only minority there in 1988.

The ART 21 episode above is titled “Thick Skin,” referencing Cave’s suits’ ability to serve as “an alien second skin […] allowing viewers to look without bias toward the wearer’s identity.” Referred to as “vehicles for empowerment,” the suits stand out amid the 21st century’s array of creative political work, breathing new meaning into the possibility of addressing prejudice through visual art.


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