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NYU Apologizes For “Racially Insensitive” Black History Month Menu

New York University is apologizing after a student put the university on blast for serving up a “racially insensitive” menu for Black History Month.

In honor of a monthlong celebration of black history, residents in the Weinstein Passport Dining Hall were offered food and drinks that included watermelon flavored water, ribs, and collard greens.

“I walked into Downstein and noticed that the them was Black History Month. The menu is interesting with ribs, collard greens, cornbread, smashed yams, and macaroni and cheese,” Nia Harris, a sophomore at NYU, aired her frustration via a Facebook Tuesday (Feb. 20).

But, as Harris noted, the “most interesting” part of the menu were the drink options: red Kool-Aid and watermelon flavored water.

After doing a little investigating to find out who chose the menu, Harris was put in touch with the head cook, who told her that he collaborated with “cooks who are black” to come up with the food and drink choices. She felt as if he was placing blame on black employees to absolve himself of responsibility.

“Not only is this racially insensitive, this was just ignorant,” she concluded. “In 2018, there’s no excuse for intentional and deliberate disrespect. There’s no reason that anyone should be acting like they had no clue that this was insensitive. The Kool-Aid and watermelon were both removed. However, what does it say about our university if we just take this down and sweep this under the rug? This school prides itself on being diverse and inclusive. Yet, we are displaying stereotypical food for Black History Month and telling black students that this is not racially insensitive.”

NYU President Andrew Hamilton  released a statement expressing shock over the “inexcusably insensitive” menu, before shifting the blame to the school’s food distributor, Aramark. “We were shocked to learn of the drink and food choices that our food service provider — Aramark — offered at the Weinstein dining hall as part of Black History Month,” Hamilton said in a statement to Washington Square News. “It was inexcusably insensitive. That error was compounded by the insensitivity of the replies made to a student who asked Aramark staff on site how the choices were made.”

For its part, Aramark is “investigating” the situation, and suspended its director of dining for Weinstein. The company also issued an apology for the “inexcusable mistake,” and announced that it will be “re-training all employees” to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

“We are disappointed by the insensitive and offensive actions taken by one of our employees who did not follow policy and processes. The individual acted independently in a way that runs counter to our values and compromised our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

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California Approves Bill Banning Racial Discrimination Based On Hairstyles

California is set to become the latest state to ban racial discrimination based on hairstyles. Senate Bill 188, also known as The Crown Act, was introduced by state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) in January and unanimously approved in a 37-0 vote Monday (April 22).

The bill outlines the proximity between race and hair and how the history of the U.S. has been “riddled with laws and societal norms” that equate  “blackness’” which includes physical traits such as “dark skin, kinky and curly hair” with inferiority, and therefore subjecting black people to “separate and unequal treatment.”

“This idea also permeated societal understanding of professionalism,” Morgan states in the bill. “Professionalism was, and still is, closely linked to European features and mannerisms, which entails that those who do not naturally fall into Eurocentric norms must alter their appearances, sometimes drastically and permanently, in order to be deemed professional.

“Despite the great strides American society and laws have made to reverse the racist ideology that Black traits are inferior, hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for Black individuals,” Morgan continues.

Furthermore, dress codes and grooming policies prohibiting “natural hair” have a “disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.”

The 1964 Civil Rights Act banning racial discrimination extends to afros as well, but doesn’t include other hairstyles. As pointed out in SB 188, “courts do not understand that afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair. Black hair can also be naturally presented in braids, twists, and locks.”

Although the bill has yet to be signed into law, the state isn't alone in making moves to end the racist bias against natural hair. In February, New York City passed a similar bill in February imposing a $250,000 penalty for hair discrimination.

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13-Year-Old Texas Girl Dies After Being Jumped By Three Teens

A 13-year-old Texas girl was placed on life support after being jumped by three teenage girls last week, and the New York Daily News confirms the teen died.

Kashala Francis was walking home from Attucks Middle School Thursday (April 18) when she was jumped by two girls and kicked in the head by another. Cellphone recording of the incident shows the attackers laughing.

The girl's mother Mamie Jackson told reporters that Kashala came home with a bruise on her face, told her what happened but insisted she was fine. However, things quickly got worse.

On the following Saturday, Jackson says Kashala went to a family member's house and was told she became delusional but was able to gather her bearings. On Sunday (April 21), Kashala called her mother and complained she felt weak and had a painful headache before lying down.

Jackson said soon after she called the ambulance because Kashala was unconscious. While at Texas Children's Hospital, it was discovered she had a tumor in the back of her head and had fluid buildup in her brain.

On Wednesday morning (April 24) Kashala died. Pending an autopsy, it's unclear if the young girl had the tumor prior to the fight, or if being kicked in the head caused the tumor, which resulted in her death.

Until the autopsy can make the distinction, the case is being investigated as a homicide.

In an emailed sent to The Daily News, the school district stated it's offering students access to grief counselors.

"[The district] is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students. We extend our sincere condolences to the student’s family, friends, teachers, and classmates."

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Second Man Convicted In The 1998 Death Of James Byrd Jr To Be Executed

In 1998, Jasper, Texas became the epicenter of the nation when James Byrd Jr's dismembered body was found outside of a predominately black church. The rest of his body was found about a mile and a half away.

Byrd was beaten by three white supremacists men and tied to the back of a pick-up truck and reportedly dragged three miles. All men were found guilty for his brutal murder. One was sentenced to life in prison, one was executed in 20111 and another will be put to death today (April 24).

According to CNN, Jon William King, 44 who's been on death row for 20 years, will die by lethal injection.

King has long maintained coconspirator Shawn Berry was solely responsible for Byrd's death. King has appealed his conviction, alleging ineffectiveness from his defense team. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case last October.

In 2011, Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed and Shawn Berry was sentenced to life. While murders are devastating, Byrd's dragging death placed a blinding spotlight on the racial tension in America. The fallout from the case helped to pass the nation's hate crime bill, named after both Byrd and Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen who was viciously beaten to death.

Byrd's family, however, have opposed the death penalty and made it clear they would prefer that King be sentenced to life in prison. Byrd's son Ross has been quoting saying, "You cannot fight murder with murder."

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