Early voting results illustrate that Black voter turnout is on the decline. Key states like North Carolina and Florida have seen a decrease in the number of African-Americans heading to the polls. In Florida, the five counties with the largest percentage of Black voters have fallen behind the statewide voting percentage, which was 79.4 percent when President Obama was up for re-election in 2012. In North Carolina, Black votership has dropped by 15 percent since 2012. Many people believe the lack of enthusiasm for this election is due to the fact that President Obama isn’t on the ballot. “These Obama voters — you can’t treat them like they’re base Democratic voters because they’re not base Democratic voters,” said Jaime Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. “They came into the process inspired and excited by Barack Obama. Yes, they’re more in line with Democrats on almost every issue. But before Obama, they had decided that voting was not the primary vehicle for them bringing about change to their communities. It was a whole array of things from volunteering, onward. But Obama made them think about voting and connecting change to politics. And when he steps off the stage, that cynicism returns. Well, we’ve got to speak to that. If we don’t speak to that, we lose them — we lose them, we lose the future.” Read more.
Judge Dismisses Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Airbnb
Airbnb has come under fire several times for allegations of racial discrimination. On Tuesday, a judge blocked a class-action lawsuit placed against the lodging company. Gregory Selden, an African-American man, took legal action against Airbnb earlier this year claiming he was denied a rental because he is Black. Judge Christopher R. Cooper of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the case because the company’s user agreement states that customers are barred from taking their disputes to trial or engaging in class-action lawsuits. “By placing Mr. Selden’s claims into arbitration, a consumer’s constitutional right to a jury trial and access to the courts of law continues to be whittled down gradually but surely,” said Selden’s lawyer Ikechukwu Emejuru. Airbnb has unveiled a new “commitment” policy in efforts to address discrimination. “We have launched an aggressive effort to ensure our platform is fair for everyone, and we will continue to work as hard as we know how to fight bias,” said the company in a statement. Read more.
Poker Player Pleads Guilty in $31M Debt Collection Scheme
A notable poker player pled guilty in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday for his involvement in a $31 million Ponzi scheme. Travell Thomas owned up to the conspiracy and wire fraud allegations against him. Between the years 2010 and 2015, Thomas oversaw a debt collection company and made his employees “threaten, intimidate, and lie to their victims by overstating their debts,” according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “I knew what I was doing was wrong, and violating the law,” said Thomas. “I did it of my own free will.” He could face up to 40 years behind bars. He’s slated to be sentenced on February 10. Thomas has won two World Series of Poker Circuit rings. Read more.
New Report Illustrates Racial Wealth Gap in D.C.
A new report shows a huge wealth gap between Black and White households in Washington D.C. The study, conducted by the Urban Institute, examined racial disparities in regards to wealth in D.C. in both the past and present day. The report, titled The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital, showed that in both 2013 and 2014, Blacks households had a net worth of $3,500 compared to $284,000 for Whites in the D.C. area. “Black people in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area are located at the bottom of the racial wealth hierarchy,” read the report. “There is a tendency to attribute the racial wealth gap to individual character flaws among people without wealth. This report provides an extensive history of the structural barriers in local and national policies, Supreme Court rulings, programs, and practices that created wealth for many White families and prevented wealth accumulation or stripped wealth from many Black families.” Read more.
Essay Written by Tupac Auctioned for $172K
An essay written by the late rapper Tupac Shakur was recently sold at auction for over $172,000. The piece, titled Is Thug Life Dead?, was written to grab the attention of Black youngsters. “A regular Playa plays women. A Boss Playa plays life. A Boss Playa is a thinker, a leader, a builder, a moneymaker, a souljah, a teacher and most of all, a Man! I want all my homiez to know there is another level,” reads an excerpt from the essay. “Beware of Playa Haters and evil envious ‘homiez.’ They will bring u harm. It ain’t all good my people be aware! Hopefully this will do some of u some good. If it does then I don’t sit in jail in vain.” The letter began with a $10,000 bid and eventually was auctioned off for $172K. Goldin Auctions also sold other items that belonged to Tupac, including a signed contract from his 1993 film Poetic Justice. Read more.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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