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Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

Temple of Justice, Washington Supreme Court, Olympia
Flickr Photo/Aidan Wakely-Mulroney/https://flic.kr/p/dsJvKb

The Washington State Supreme Court has raised the bar for removing jurors of color from an all-white panel.


It's been almost four years since Patrisse Khan-Cullors helped birth the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Those three words gained national attention for demonstrations against police brutality and grew into a movement.

But progress has been slow, admits Khan-Cullors, a Los Angeles-based activist who co-founded the Black Lives Matter Network.

Stephan Blanford, Seattle School Board member
KUOW: Megan Farmer

When Stephan Blanford ran for Seattle school board four years ago, he won 89 percent of the vote.

But he often felt stuck as a member of that board and now says he won’t run again.


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Naomi Klein move past their shock at Trump's election at the Neptune Theatre
Courtesy of Debra Heesch

Journalist and author Naomi Klein is famous for her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” The shock she explored there was the manipulation of international crisis situations to implement so-called neo-liberal, free market policies.

On a recent stop in Seattle, Klein considered another kind of shock. She read from her new book, “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.”

Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fuH8hN

A Seattle School Board resolution calls for the expansion of ethnic studies in district classrooms.

The Seattle-King County chapter of the NAACP first made a similar proposal last winter. 

A grand jury indicted three Chicago police officers on felony charges on Tuesday, accusing them of conspiring to cover up the facts of a fatal police shooting in October 2014 of a black teenager in order to shield their fellow officer.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, according to prosecutors.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Ijeoma Oluo, editor at large of The Establishment, and Eula Scott Bynoe, co-host of HellaBlackHellaSeattle, about the conversations they've been having in the wake of the shooting of Charleena Lyles. 

Left to right: Sage Cook, Christina Joo, Kristin Leong, Joy Williamson-Lott, Saraswati Noel, Jesse Hagopian, Sharonne Navas and Nathan Simoneaux at Town Hall Seattle
Courtesy of Kristin Leong

What value do we attribute to education? It is common to hear how it changes lives, promotes imagination and creativity and invites opportunity. It is often a social endeavor, and thus encourages the wide sharing of ideas and knowledge.

The founders of Washington state clearly valued the concept of education. Article IX of our Constitution states:

“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”

The Slants
Courtesy of The Slants

Bill Radke speaks with Simon Tam of Portland band The Slants and Robert Chang, professor of law at the Seattle University School of Law, about the Supreme Court decision that allowed Tam's Asian-American band to trademark their name, which some argued was too offensive for the designation.

Tam explains how he feels this decision allows people to empower themselves against slurs and thinks this is a huge win for social justice.

Professor Chang disagrees with the SCOTUS decision, claiming that this could open the doors to discriminatory  trademarks that slip past civil rights laws. He also argues that trademarking names may in fact harm future social justice movements. 

Barbie's one-time blue-eyed boyfriend is getting a makeover. Toymaker Mattel is giving its Ken doll a variety of new looks in hopes the makeovers will move the toys into the modern era.

On Tuesday, the company rolled out 15 new Ken dolls with three body types: "slim, broad and original." They have seven skin tones, nine hairstyles — including cornrows and "man buns" — and an array of sartorial styles from business casual to athletic-chic.

Jenny Henderson, Seattle mental health counselor
KUOW: Kara McDermott

The African American community in Seattle is in shock after city police shot and killed 30-year-old Charleena Lyles. Jenny Henderson is a therapist in Seattle whose clientele is mostly black. She tells Kim Malcolm that Lyles' mental illness was not taken into account. 

On Monday, Seattle officials released dash cam audio of a Sunday morning police shooting that left Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of three, dead. The two Seattle police officers had been called to Lyles' apartment so she could report a burglary.

The shooting is under investigation by the Seattle Police Department's Force Investigation Team, and also SPD's Office of Professional Accountability, but here's what we know now:

Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

The Slants' frontman, Simon Tam, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office kept the band from registering its name and rejected its appeal, citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits any trademark that could "disparage ... or bring ... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," as the court states.

Laurelhurst Elementary in northeast Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

On a gray day last October, teachers across Seattle wore a shirt that read BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Law enforcement prepared for protesters and counterprotesters on the Evergreen State College campus in Olympia, Washington, Thursday afternoon—the day before this year's graduation ceremony.

Editor's Note: This piece contains language that some may find offensive.

It's Flag Day! On this week's podcast, we explore the ways that communities of color in the United States relate to the Stars and Stripes.

And we thought it worth a few moments to celebrate a flag created nearly a century ago for black Americans.

Seattle poet Azura Tyabji has been writing poetry since eighth grade. Her big dream is to publish a book.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Azura Tyabji stepped up to the microphone at a community forum this spring, most of the audience members had no idea what to expect.

D.J. and Angela Ross were not supposed to end up together, according to their families.

"Actually my grandma on both sides used to tell me, 'Boy, you better leave those white girls alone or else we're going to come find you hanging from a tree,' " says D.J., 35, who is black and grew up in southern Virginia.

Angela, 40, who is white and was also raised in Virginia, remembers being warned: "You can have friends with black people, and that's fine. But don't ever marry a black man."

Rachel Pearson / Twitter

Dr. Rachel Pearson got her start working with poor people in Texas, many of them people of color. 

Which got her thinking about how doctors learn by making mistakes with those communities.

"We need to keep in mind what we owe to the people who have contributed the most to medical training and medical knowledge," she said. 


KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Dr. Martin Luther King’s phrase “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice” is often spoken of with a sense of solace in America. We tell ourselves that progress is being made and patience is necessary.

Over and over again, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos deflected a barrage of pointed questions with one answer:

"Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law."

Twitter War vets Lindy West and Scaachi Koul at SPL
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Seeing as there’s not much going on down here in the States, perhaps it’s a good time to check in with one of our neighbors to the north. Toronto-based author Scaachi Koul was in town recently for a chat with Seattle writer Lindy West.

The news conference was supposed to be about the start of the NBA finals Thursday — but the first question to Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James wasn't about how he'll deal with the Warriors' Draymond Green. It was about how he's dealing with racist graffiti at his house in Los Angeles.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Twitter

Author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor said she canceled a lecture at Seattle’s Town Hall on Wednesday night after an avalanche of hate email following a speech she gave this month.

Tang Fung Chin was forced out of her apartment in Seattle's Chinatown-International District in 2015
KUOW Photo / David Hyde

Once again, residents are being forced out of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. More than a century ago, a wave of anti-Chinese violence hit the West Coast. Hundreds of Chinese workers were made to leave Seattle by ship.

Then came World War II, when thousands of Japanese Americans were taken away.


This year, 25 states and the District of Columbia are considering measures that would bar employers from asking job candidates about their prior salary. Last year, two states — California and Massachusetts — adopted similar policies, aimed at trying to narrow the pay gap for women and minorities.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Auburn police officer Aaron Williams furrows his brow as he reroutes his patrol car to a 911 call.

“Yeah, you can send me,” Williams responds to the radio dispatch.


Two people are dead and one was injured after a stabbing on a train in Portland, Ore., on Friday afternoon.

Join KUOW for 'Interrupting Whiteness'

May 25, 2017

What is the role that white people can play in dismantling white supremacy and its related oppressions? How can Seattle, as a majority white city, confront the legacy of racism in the Pacific Northwest? 

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