America Ferrera Signs Open Letter Urging Local Governments to Decrease Police Budgets

America Ferrera is calling for decreased police funding…

The 36-year-old Honduran American actress and activist has joined the likes of John LegendCommon, the WeekndLizzoJane Fonda, and others to signed a new open letter urging local governments to decrease police budgets in favor of spending more on health care, education, and other community programs. 

Others to sign the letter include Megan RapinoeYada Shahidi, and Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU.

The letter was released by activist Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and a founding member of the Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of more than 100 black-rights organizations. 

The letter arrived in conjunction with #BlackOutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused, a grassroots campaign within the music industryto pause work today, June 2nd, and “reconnect with our community.” 

Talib KweliNatalie PortmanBrie Larson and Taraji P. Henson also signed the letter.

The open letter ties the deaths of unarmed black people like George FloydAhmaud ArberyBreonna TaylorTony McDade, and others to the disproportionately devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on black communities. 

The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other,” it states. “The United States does not have a national healthcare system. Instead, we have the largest military budget in the world, and some of the most well-funded and militarized police departments in the world, too. Policing and militarization overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets. In fact, police and military funding has increased every single year since 1973, and at the same time, funding for public health decreased every year, crystallized most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing ‘costs.To know more about health check this site.

Noting, for instance, that state and local government spending on police and corrections jumped from $60 billion to $194 billion between 1977 and 2017, the letter lays out an array of different ways that money could be used. “It could go towards building healthy communities, to the health of our elders and children, to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future. The possibilities are endless.”

At the end, the letter lays out its three demands and asks all signees to encourage their local officials to take the pledge as well: “Vote no on all increases to police budgets. Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets. Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, Education, and Community programs that keep us safe.”

Luisa Lopez Releases Noir-Flavored Video for “They Ain’t Gonna See Me Coming: An American Western”

Luisa Lopezis going West-ern

The Latina singer/songwriter has released the latest track from her album, 45, “They Ain’t Gonna See Me Coming: An American Western.” And she’s sharing the noir-flavored video exclusively on Billboard.com.

Luisa Lopez

Lopez, who recently relocated to Nashville from Houston, opened up about the song’s first-person perspective.

“I’m a big fan of storytelling, and I loveJohnny Cash‘s murder ballad kind of thing,” she tells Billboard. “I just gave a lot of thought to what is it that’s going on in people’s brains? What kind of state of mind do you have to be in to take it upon yourself to go murder your neighbors? You make all this effort to plan and plot and take out people’s lives. What would make someone make that kind of plan? I think it’s so dark and it’s weird ’cause you’re saying these things, and it seems like it’s coming from you.”

The song’s video, meanwhile, juxtaposes shots of Lopez performing with gritty footage of the presumed killer preparing for action. 

“It shows the attentiveness and the coldness in which people finish out their plans,” Lopez explains. “I don’t think anybody can get out of the song that I’m celebrating it. I think of it like when you hear Johnny Cash say, ‘I shot a man in Reno to watch him die.’ I think there’s kind of touching the sun aspect to it.”

Lopez has her own take on contemporary gun violence too. As “They Won’t See Me Coming’s” subtitle indicates, she considers it a manifestation of Western film and literary culture, the shoot-first philosophy that made stars out of the likes of John WayneGary Cooperand Clint Eastwood.

“This is a revered kind of thing; The good guys andthe bad guys ride into town and take people’s lives,” Lopez explains. “People think that’s so awesome, but actually it has consequences, and we’re seeing this now. These guys do think they’re the good guys, the white supremacists who roll into churches, even the folks who did the San Bernardino shooting or the guy who went down to the Orlando nightclub … They had in their minds they were doing something righteous. It’s bizarre and it’s out of hand, but it doesn’t feel that far away from what we glorify in those [Western] movies.”

“They Ain’t Gonna See Me Coming” is one of several socially conscious songs on 45, which came out May 31 — titled for the age when she began writing its eight tracks — and marked a sea change for Lopez, topically.  “I think of it as a social commentary album,” says Lopez, who performed a show for the ACLU this year. 

The new focus has grown on Lopez, and she says she’s looking forward to playing the songs more on the road during the charged election year of 2020.

“This is my first time ever being this way,” Lopez says. “That album just rolled out of me. I think I’m finding my place in the music, in the social commentary and in the political arena. I don’t think my songs are very political; I try to tell these stories on purpose. If you live in Nashville long enough you end up rubbing elbows with some really amazing, Grammy Award-winning artists. One of them said he thought there was a lot more life in 45— not the president, but my album. And I like that.”

Lin Manuel Miranda Named to DoSomething.org’s Annual Celebs Gone Good List

Lin Manuel Miranda has gone good

DoSomething.org has released its annual Celebs Gone Good list for 2017, with the 37-year-old Puerto Rican Tony Award-winning Broadway star and Hamilton musical creator making the grade.

Lin Manuel Miranda

The list recognizes celebrities who used their impact to affect social change in the world, as these celebs helped raise awareness for causes such as mental health, education, gun violence, LGBTQ, sexual assault, hurricane/disaster relief and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Miranda, who comes in at No. 12, partnered with a nonprofit, and in November, announced a $2.5 million hurricane recovery fund to help the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

But Miranda isn’t the only Latino/a celebrity to make the list.

Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui comes in at No. 13.

The 21-year-old Cuban American singer has been vocal about women’s rights, and has donated to charitable groups including Chime for Change, ACLU, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood and more.

Jennifer Lopez, who appears on Miranda’s Puerto Rico hurricane relief single, comes in at No. 14.

The 48-year-old Puerto Rican superstar had been vocal about helping the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and in September, she put her money where her mouth is. The singer and actress announced at a press conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that she would donate $1 million to help Puerto Rico rebuild.

Demi Lovato comes in at No. 16.

The 25-year-old part-Mexican American singer/actress continued her mental health advocacy work this year, which has also earned her the Artistic Award of courage. She also celebrated five years of sobriety by donating thousands to charity, including $5,000 to Ace of Hearts, an animal rescue group.

Bruno Mars ranks No. 20.

The 32-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer donated $1 million from his sold-out Michigan concert in August to help those who have been impacted by the city of Flint’s water crisis. “Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster,” he said in a statement. “As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”

The organization also selected eight Celebs to Watch in 2018, featuring young talent who give back, including Riverdale star Camila Mendes.

View the 2017 Celebs Gone Good rankings below:

  1. Chance the Rapper
  2. Colin Kaepernick
  3. Ariana Grande
  4. Rihanna
  5. Beyoncé
  6. JJ Watt
  7. Kesha
  8. Yara Shahidi
  9. Zendaya
  10. Bethenny Frankel
  11. Nicki Minaj
  12. Lin Manuel Miranda
  13. Lauren Jauregui
  14. Jennifer Lopez
  15. Shawn Mendes
  16. Demi Lovato
  17. Ava DuVernay
  18. John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
  19. Miley Cyrus
  20. Bruno Mars

Celebs to Watch in 2018

  1. Jacob Sartorius
  2. Skai Jackson
  3. Halima Aden
  4. Camila Mendes
  5. Chloe and Halle
  6. Cameron Boyce
  7. Rowan Blanchard
  8. Kiersey Clemons

Gina Rodriguez Receives Bill of Rights Award from the ACLU of Southern California 

Gina Rodriguez fits the bill

The 33-year-old Puerto Rican actress and Jane the Virgin star was honored Sunday by the ACLU of Southern California at the group’s annual Bill of Rights dinner.

Gina Rodriguez

Rodriguez received the Bill of Rights award for her the tireless efforts she puts toward women’s rights and support for immigration as part of her work.

Throughout her career, Rodriguez has been backed up her beliefs in her professional work, with socially-conscious projects like Jane the Virgin, which earned her a Golden Globe, and upcoming shows like Femme, dealing with millennial feminists; and Illegal, dealing with the current climate surrounding immigrant families.

Last month, she fired both her agency and management company, APA and Primary Wave Entertainment, with both linked in the wave of sexual harassment and abuse scandals plaguing Hollywood, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rodriguez was tearful in detailing what the ACLU recognition meant to her as a Latino representative.

“For those of us who make our living in Hollywood, the images that affect our fellow humans are our responsibility. So I accept this award and in doing so accept my responsibility to present a positive image to all those who look to me for inspiration. I will never stop trying to make this country a place where people of all races and ethnicities can feel accepted,”  she said.

Others on hand lauded for their outspoken social advocacy included Oscar-winning actresses Viola Davis and Jane Fonda; producers Judd Apatow and Reginald Hudlin; and famed labor leader Dolores Huerta, who was given the Lifetime Advocate for Justice Award.