Category: Commentary

Why Would Somebody Fake a Hate Crime?

We still don’t know exactly what happened in the Jussie Smollett case that has dominated the news cycle for the past week. What we do know is that after the Empire star revealed he was allegedly the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, conflicting reports started to emerge suggesting that Smollett may have been involved in orchestrating the incident. Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the two brothers who were originally considered suspects, both knew Smollett in advance of the attack and told Chicago police that they were hired by Smollett. After the Chicago PD announced they were “shifting the trajectory” of their investigation, Smollett said in a statement that he is “angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with” and that anyone claiming he played a role in his own attack “is lying.”

While it’s too soon to render a verdict on what exactly went down, if the case does prove to be a hoax, the ramifications are hard to overstate. As we’ve seen in the extremely rare cases involving false rape allegations, they serve as ammo for people looking to undermine the credibility of genuine victims (like clockwork, Donald Trump Jr. is already tweeting about Smollett’s story, in which his attackers were originally described as two men shouting, “This is MAGA country”). But what would motivate someone to pretend to be the victim of a hate crime? We called up Dr. Marc Feldman, who is not involved in the case but is an expert on factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome by proxy, to learn more about “factitious victimization” — a disorder that causes people to feign victimhood for psychological reasons — and how it could come into play in the Smollett case.

What did you think when you first heard this case might be a hoax?

Munchausen syndrome refers to the most extreme examples of “factitious disorder,” which is the official psychiatric term for people who feign illness or injury for intangible reasons. Ever since I encountered my first case of a woman who faked cancer for emotional reasons back in 1989, I’ve obviously been more sensitive to that possibility than most people ever would be. I try not to falsely accuse people and that’s why I am approaching this subject with a little timidity. But when it does arise I think it’s important that we identify it and help educate the public about it. READ MORE: https://www.thecut.com/2019/02/why-would-somebody-fake-a-hate-crime.html

SF Muni Ignores Harassment Allegations and open Pandora’s box

By Bobby Mardis

A brief conversation with Muni Transit Car Cleaner Lead Person, Valerie Taybron, led to spewing an emotional colloquy on why she has been unable to retire from SFMTA.  She stated that she and others are victims of the mismanagement of their retirement funds, and of years of service.  When digging deeper into what was seemingly an obvious error in paperwork, or maybe a simple accounting mistake has opened up Pandora’s box of gross internal mismanagement on surprising levels.  Sexual harassment allegations and retaliation has hit transportation giant, San Francisco MUNI.  Court documents show that Key management officials at Muni have been under investigation for not only blatant harassment, but also the mismanagement that has plagued SFMTA that has led to endless litigation.

Richmond Resident Valerie Taybron is preparing her case with authorities to address not only the sexual harassment allegations, but also retaliation and racial discrimination actions.  Most recently Muni Chief, John Haley stepped down from Sexual Harassment charges towards his assistant, Sabrina Suzuki, who filed a suit, which led to his early retirement. In an SF Examiner article released on October 31, 2018, the problem runs deep with approximately 60 women giving written testimony to the SFMTA on October 22 addressing sexual harassment allegations. In 2016 Sherri Anderson, a SFMTA employee was another victim of sexual harassment and retaliation by management that recently settled her case based on court documents. (Case #: CGC-16-555748)

Although Ms. Taybron has her own separate complaints against Muni, it is well documented that her case is not an isolated incident.  She has reported her allegations to Ed Reiskin, General Manager Public Transportation, John Haley Deputy Director, Donald Ellison, Deputy Director of HR, and Hector Cardenas Local of 1021 with no resolution, or an attempted investigation. Employees suggest that not only are a good number of sexual harassment issues ignored by management, but also accusers have been continually retaliated against for their complaints. 

In the case of Joycelyn Lampkin, a Muni car cleaner, who alleged sexual harassment by her supervisor, Darryl Person, she filed an official grievance with the HR EEO supervisor Maria Valdez with no resolve.  After Mrs. Lampkin took some time off, she returned to work and inquired about the results of the investigation and Mrs. Valdez responded to the alleged incident by stating, and I quote, “You will rot in hell before I will do anything,” per Mrs. Lampkin.  Much like in the recent February 12th Examiner article that spotlighted change, women who formed SFMTA change see the first change in the stepping down of Mr. Donald Ellison.

In a complaint written on October 17, to Mr. Ed Reiskin by Ms. Taybron, she alleged that her complaints were intentionally ignored because she was an African-American Female who had previously won a judgment for similar complaints in the past. Lee Summerlot, the Acting Deputy Director at the time, supplied Taybron with surveillance footage of the theft of her personal property along with tracking for her case.   (Continued)…

Ms. Valerie Taybron, Muni Car Cleaner Lead Person, alleges that not only has the harassment continued, but it has also taken on the form of retaliation. “MUNI management, John Catanach, Acting Deputy Director, and Berry Gehret, supervisor, have allowed me to be violated by being sexually harassed, exposed to continued death threats on the job, the stealing of my personal belongings, denied opportunity on promotions, and maliciously stealing from my 40 years of service so that I cannot retire.” stated Ms. Taybron.  Mr. Taybron also alleged that after she took a fall on the job and that Mr. Gehret refused to call an ambulance for assistance. This continued effort to retaliate against her compounds the mismanagement and harassment abuse.

Ms. Taybron has mentioned that she has gone to the retirement board and Michael Guess, Asst. Manager of Retirement for 11 years to date in hopes of retiring with her full benefits. She was repeatedly denied because of suspiciously missing files that substantiate her retirement.  On October 28, she submitted a request for documents to Kate McClure, Senior benefits analyst, which Taybron stated should have only taken three days based on advisement from her union. She has yet to receive the documents.

The HR department is currently under investigation among other issues, for pressuring the closure of pending cases without investigations. As of 11-28-18 Ms. Taybron has yet to receive proper paperwork for her retirement and her complete years of service.  Per Ms. Taybron, Management called her on 11/8/18 to set up a meeting involving a separate issue, however Ms. Taybron would not agree to meet in person without her representatives.  Hector Cardenas, the Union Senior Operations Manager surprisingly informed Ms. Taybron that he did not get involved with retirement issues. Mr. Cardenas also represents the Parking Controllers within the same union who most recently came out in their harassment allegations and blasted him for not supporting them on allegations of sexual harassment with no response.

Muni Execs have their hands full as a result of mismanagement. They are currently also in a racial discrimination case with a Muni employee, Mr. Sampson Asrot who was denied a promotion as a Mechanic supervisor who he contends was purposely overlooked.  This court case is still pending with a continuance in January of 2019.  Per court documents, it appears that a number of issues surfaced in this case within the discovery process have caught the attention of Government officials.  They are currently investigating other serious issues as they have their eyes set on further sanctions. (Case #: CGC16-552737)

Muni is not alone. Sexual harassment is currently going strong in San Francisco, which is even affecting the tech giant, Google. They most recently ousted close to 50 people in the last two years for sexual harassment in the workplace. None of those fired individuals received exit packages.  Muni’s systemic management problems are running deeper than their ongoing discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment issues.  In a September 2018 Examiner article, even Sarita Britt, the former highest-ranking SFMTA female official stated, “They don’t do thorough investigations.”

Muni is just another SF City and County Department that is suffering from sexual harassment and discrimination issues.  After numerous attempts to contact Muni management, Ed Reiskin and Mr. Canatch as well as Mr. Paul Rose in the media division for a statement, they have not responded, or commented to date.

Accusers say that its time SFMTA management to step up and resolve their internal management issues so the company can run more efficiently. Ms. Taybron apparently has to stand in line and wait her day in court. “My lawyer is currently preparing my complaint,” she stated.  Mayor London Breed has gotten involved because these cases and judgments are undoubtedly costing the city significant resources that trickle down to a single bus fare of MUNI customers citywide.

For One Night in 1965, the Supremes Brought the Two Detroits Together The queens of Motown play the posh suburbs.

It’s a vision of two Detroits that have mostly faded now — the social set born of the American auto industry’s vast wealth and the galvanizing magic of ’60s Motown — together in a room.

In June 1965, the Supremes, one of America’s biggest and most glamorous groups, performed at a debutante party at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the posh all-white enclave just northeast of the city.

It was the debutante party of Christy Cole Wilson, and The New York Times pictures of the event tell a layered story of two groups connected, at least for the evening, by the music of that time and place.

The three elegant darlings of Detroit, led by the 21-year-old Diana Ross, serenade a room of finely attired guests, many of practically the same age. But between the groups were also the realities of race and class — the distance between Grosse Pointe and the Brewster projects where the Supremes grew up, 10 miles and several worlds away. The Times covered the lavish event in avid detail. “It took three days, hundreds of fresh blue irises, thousands of little Italian lights and hundreds of thousands of yellow plastic flowers to turn the club into a French garden,” the story enthused. “Whole walls had disappeared behind Austrian silk panels of gold and mirrors before the 750 guests arrived.”

Not until the eighth paragraph did the story mention that “when they were not dancing and being entertained by a rock ‘n’ roll group called the Supremes, the Wilsons and their guests were polishing off 20 cases of French champagne, attempting to create a liquor shortage (the plot failed), and heaping their plates with food from an abundantly stocked buffet table.”

The trio hardly needed an identifier at that point. Between August 1964 and June 1965, the Supremes had five No. 1 singles, including “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again,” which had gone to the top of the charts just six days before this party. Which is exactly why Ms. Wilson’s parents hired them.

“Everyone had very glamorous deb parties when I was growing up,” said Ms. Wilson Hofmann, 72, who now lives in Bristol, R.I.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/arts/supremes-photos-motown-grosse-pointe.html

Gladys Knight, Ahead of Super Bowl Anthem Date, Criticizes Colin Kaepernick

The soul singer Gladys Knight, who will be singing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, seemed to criticize Colin Kaepernick in a statement published by Variety on Friday.

Kaepernick is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and decision to kneel instead — to protest police brutality has made him a divisive figure nationwide, earning him praise from civil rights groups, but scorn from many conservatives, including President Trump.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The statement continued: “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”

This is the latest twist at the intersection of politics, sports and music that has surrounded this year’s Super Bowl. Kaepernick is still in the middle of an ongoing arbitration case regarding a grievance he filed against the N.F.L. He has accused the league’s owners of colluding to keep him out of the league after not being signed last season.

His protests during the anthems became a cultural flash point, even though he wasn’t in the league. Other N.F.L. players began kneeling to support Kaepernick, as did celebrities off the field. Last fall, Nike made Kaepernick the face of a prominent advertising campaign.

This year’s Super Bowl became particularly fraught because of the halftime show. Some high-profile artists, including the rapper Cardi B, said they would not be willing to perform, in a show of solidarity with Kaepernick. Last year, Jay-Z rapped in one of his songs: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”

Earlier this week, the N.F.L. announced the halftime acts would be Maroon 5 and the rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Scott’s decision to participate, in particular, received backlash, including from prominent African-Americans like Al Sharpton. Variety reported that Kaepernick and Scott spoke before the announcement and described the conversation as “cordial and respectful.” But on Wednesday, several posts critical of Scott appeared on Kaepernick’s Twitter account.

Perhaps anticipating the criticism, Scott announced on Sunday, in conjunction with the halftime billing, that he and the league were teaming up on a $500,000 donation to Dream Corps, a social justice group.

How Radio Is Dealing With R. Kelly in 2019

In the aftermath of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, listeners everywhere are rethinking their relationship with R. Kelly and his music. Music business institutions are also facing pressure to cut ties with the singer as he faces investigation and possible criminal charges for the alleged behavior outlined in the program.

Kelly’s label, RCA Records, still lists him as being on their roster, though they have not sent out a press release about him since October, 2016. The label has faced public pressure for years to drop Kelly—pressure that is only ratcheting up in recent days.

As important as his future with RCA is, equally crucial is the way some people still hear R. Kelly’s music in 2019: on the radio.

The amount of airplay Kelly has received has been in a free fall since Surviving R. Kelly began. According to Billboard, the number of all-format radio impressions of his music dropped nearly 85 percent between the first night the series aired and the Monday following its conclusion.

This is the continuation of a longer trend: his spins fell roughly 40 percent over the course of 2018. But Surviving R. Kelly seems to have given additional momentum to the movement to get him off of radio. Stations across the U.S., from Seattle to Atlanta to Los Angeles to Savannah to Dallas, have removed R. Kelly’s entire catalog from their playlists. And iHeartMedia, which owns over 850 stations, is the subject of a new campaign to remove Kelly’s music from all of them.

The #MuteRKelly movement, unsurprisingly, has heard plenty of similar stories from DJs—both the radio and live performance variety. “#MuteRKelly has received countless emails from DJs around the country who are joining us in boycotting R Kelly’s music,” they say in a statement to Complex. “Many shared their stories of having not played him in years, or arguing with clients about why they wouldn’t play R Kelly despite audience requests.

“What’s more impressive to us, however, are the stories from DJs about playing R Kelly in the club and immediately being booed until they turned it off. The masses are waking up, and it’s in MASS action that we see real and lasting change.”  

READ MORE: https://www.complex.com/music/2019/01/how-radio-is-dealing-with-r-kelly-2019

Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan Compare Notes on Boxing, Acting Naked, and Harley Quinn vs. Killmonger

Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan seem to effortlessly check all the movie star boxes: Megawatt charm? Check (those smiles!). Actor clout? No problem (having Martin Scorsese and Ryan Coogler launch their respective careers can’t hurt). Lucrative blockbuster movie franchises? Yep, that too (Robbie in Suicide Squad and Jordan in Creed, with a memorable detour into Wakanda). So, as it turns out, they have a lot to talk about—and not just about fame and their good fortune. Here, as part of our annual Best Performances portfolio, Robbie, who starred in the recent palace-intrigue period drama Mary Queen of Scots, and Jordan, who returned in Creed 2 and dominated the screen in Black Panther this year, sit down with W‘s Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg to share not only how it is they make morally questionable villains like Harley Quinn and Killmonger into magnetic antiheroes, but also their totally embarrassing early email addresses, their most memorable red carpet fashion faux pas, and their frankly amazing first kiss stories.

So Michael, what’s the first album you ever bought?

Michael B. Jordan: First album? Ah, man, that’s a good one.
Margot Robbie: Oh, that is a good one.
Jordan: I want to say, on cassette tape… um, Usher’s My Way.
Robbie: That’s a good answer.
Jordan: You’re taking me back. I want to say I rode my bike to the music store that was, like, down the street.

What was the first album you ever bought, Margot?

Robbie: I think the first album I bought was, um, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow. I was in a bit of a heavy metal phase. But I think the first single I bought was Blink 182, “All the Small Things.”
Jordan: Okay. So the heavy metal. Are you still in that phase or did you pass that?
Robbie: Occasionally.
Jordan: Occasionally?
Robbie: Occasionally.

Have you ever gone through a heavy metal phase, Michael?

Jordan: I have not.
Robbie: [Laughs.]
Jordan: But electric guitar solos are my thing. Like, I love, the Ernie Isleys of the world, the “Who’s That Lady” solo is pretty incredible. [Michael Jackson’s] “Dirty Diana” is pretty good.

Do you play air guitar?

Jordan: Air guitar? All day. [Laughs.]
Robbie: I can air guitar. That’s about the extent of my musical prowess, really.

Michael, did you box before Creed?

Jordan: I never officially boxed but karate, martial arts, and stuff like that. And then I kinda segued into boxing.

And you, Margot, have you ever boxed?

Robbie: I’ve done a bit of boxing, yeah—mainly to prepare for fight training, like stunt work. And I really, really like it. I have stupidly long arms, like, they’re too long for my body. So actually it’s kind of good when you’re boxing.
Jordan: The reach is incredible.
Robbie: An extra long reach. And it looks good on camera. Having long limbs on camera makes your punches—
Jordan: Your punch is a little wider, yeah, yeah, yeah. She knows what she’s talking about.

What I love about both of your performances in different movies is that although you kind of play superheroes in both Suicide Squad and in Black Panther, you’re also kind of antiheroes at the same time. There’s a kind of dichotomy to the characters.

Robbie: A lovable rogue.
Jordan: That’s right. I like that. I mean, those are the most interesting characters to me sometimes, like when I’m watching films that, on screen, are the ones that you can empathize with. Like, they want you to root against ’em. They want you to not like them. But somehow you can still understand where they’re coming from and that’s important.

Do you have a favorite villain? Other than Killmonger.

Jordan: Yeah, because he’s tough. I mean, honestly, it’s between [Michael] Fassbender’s Magneto and Heath Ledger’s Joker. Honestly. Those two are pretty up there for me. [To Robbie] What about you?
Robbie: I’m totally stealing someone else’s answer. I’ve heard someone else say this, but I do truly think this is a genius villain: HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Jordan: Ohhh. Man.
Robbie: It’s just such a cool villain. That was genius.

But it is also kind of weirdly sympathetic.

Robbie: Totally. The best villains are sympathetic.

With both these characters, you act with very little clothing on. Is it difficult to act when you are basically naked?

Robbie: Uh …
Jordan: I’m always naked, actually.
Robbie: Honestly, for me, as Harley at least, the more skin showing the longer it takes in hair and makeup ’cause she’s got, you know, white skin and a million tattoos. So if anything outside, god, the scenes where I don’t even have the jacket on, that’s an extra 20 minutes in the makeup trailer.
Jordan: Yeah, same here. Killmonger, all the scars and stuff like that, the makeup, it took a long time to put the prosthetics on.
Robbie: Yeah, you want to be more covered up.

So, Michael, what was the very first thing you ever auditioned for?

Jordan: Ooh.
Robbie: Hmm. I’m trying to think of the first thing I auditioned for.

Let’s say the one you got.

JordanThe Sopranos. I don’t know what season it was, but Tony [Soprano] was having a flashback. And I played a bully in his childhood who bullied him on the boardwalk on his way home one day.

Really?

Jordan: Yeah, I was Bully #2, I think.

Was it a speaking role?

Jordan: It was, but we were just yelling shit at him. I don’t know. I was improv-ing, actually. I was living in the moment—
Robbie: (Laughs.) I was so present
Jordan: I was…
Robbie: —that I now can’t remember.
Jordan: … locked into Bully #2.

READ MORE:https://www.wmagazine.com/story/margot-robbie-michael-b-jordan-harley-quinn-killmonger

Petition Calling for Adidas to Cut Ties With Kanye West Sees Spike in Signatures After Controversial Weekend

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After videos surfaced online of Kanye West’s cut pro-Trump speech during his Saturday Night Live performance, followed by a Twitter rant calling for the 13th amendment to be abolished, a Care2 petition calling on Adidas to cut ties with the rapper spiked to 26,000 signatures.

The petition was initially created back in May after Ye spoke a slew of controversial comments on TMZ, noting in particular that slavery was a choice. “Kanye West continues to show disregard for the influence of his role as a public figure with his support of Donald Trump’s policies and his confused Twitter rants on slavery, while the rest of black America is continually marginalized and subject to unjust laws and treatment,” the petition reads. “West has a right to free speech, and he has the right to spout lies and misinformation and misplaced opinions — but Adidas should not stand idly by and, effectively, condone his behavior and revisionist history.”

West’s SNL speech, which did not make it to air followed the theme of racism in America as the rapper sported a “Make America Great Again” hat. “It’s so many times that I talk to a white person about this, and they say, ‘How could you support Trump? He’s racist.’” he announced. “Well if I was concerned about racism, I would have moved out of America a long time ago. We don’t just make our decisions off of racism. I’ma break it down to you right now: If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all they policies.”

SOURCE OF THIS STORY: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8477897/petition-adidas-to-cut-ties-kanye-west-signature-spike