LAUSD’s Teachers Are Not Reflective of its Students

As the first day of school approaches for most students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, The Los Angeles Times breaks down some interesting statistics. One fact is that nearly 3/4 of the students in the LAUSD are Latino but the same can’t be said of its teaching staff. Click here to see more.

NYC Public School System Still Facing Racial Diversity Challenges

A recent study on the racial makeup of students who were accepted into New York City’s elite specialized high schools showed that 5% of students offered seats for next fall are black, 7% Hispanic, 28% white and 52% Asian. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña says she will continue to review ideas on how to increase diversity at this level of education but also admits, “at the end of the day, however, the best way to increase diversity at these schools is to ensure that every student goes to a great elementary and middle school.” Is this enough? Click here to read more.

Some Things To Know Before You Apply For Art School

Statistics indicate that it may be more difficult to make a living as an artist if you are a person of color. We say the heck with stats and pursue your dreams, but it doesn’t hurt to arm yourself with info to help you get there. Click here to read more.

A MMXLII Murder Mystery?

If you’re a frequent visitor to MMXLII.com then it should really come as no surprise that America faces a boom in diversity that’s impacting every level of our society. This is old news. And as the US becomes  more diverse, there are a number of unfortunate and culturally confusing circumstances that can arise. Take for instance, the case of then 17-year-old Adnan Syed.

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Are All Of These Prank Videos Simply Veiled Racism?

Here’s the setup. A young white kid goes into working class community and finds a black man minding his own business. The white guy then asks the African-American stranger something that either challenges his manhood or does something threatening/ insulting to that person. Then the antics ensue. Funny?

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Dear White People…The Movie

It’s like Spike Lee’s School Daze for the “post-racial” era. But as we wait for the much talked about sequel to Lee’s groundbreaking film, we are certainly looking forward to seeing this. See the recently released trailer after the jump.

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Police Brutality Is Now A Formality…

Those words spit by the Geto Boy’s Brad “Scarface” Jordan have never rang truer than right now. It seems like a day can’t go by without another visage of someone, mostly minorities, getting hammered by the police. After the jump, Vice takes a look at the recent highly publicized case of Eric Garner and the legacy of police brutality on black men. Read More

What Is Passover?

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained.

The Story in a Nutshell

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

Click here for the full Passover story.

Passover Observances

Passover is divided into two parts:

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, andkiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).

The middle four days are called chol hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.

NO CHAMETZ

To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametzmeans leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.

Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday.

For more on this topic, see Operation Zero Chametz.

MATZAH

Instead of chametz, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights (see below for more on this), and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.

Click here for more on matzah.

THE SEDERS

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.

The focal points of the Seder are:

  • Eating matzah.
  • Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.
  • Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.
  • The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.

via Chabad.org

You Need to Watch Laverne Cox’s Inspiring Speech on Transgender Issues

Last week, the Trans 100 list went public, celebrating those who have raised the public profile or made a difference for transgender people. This list was read live two weeks ago, at the Trans 100 gala in Chicago. The event also featured keynote speeches by author Janet Mock and Laverne Cox of Orange Is the New Black.

Cox’s speech hinged on the saying, “Hurt people hurt people” and the “revolutionary action” of trans people loving each other, and touched on issues of oppression, kindness, and healing. It’s a powerful, emotional speech, especially when she speaks of the crowdfunding effort for the documentary about CeCe McDonald, a transgender activist who served 19 months in a men’s prison after defending herself from an attack in 2011.

“So often, trans people are told that our lives don’t matter,” Cox says. “Particularly black trans women. And tens of thousands of dollars were raised for this woman CeCe McDonald to prove that our lives do matter.”