Diversity Headlines

New York City Mural Honors Mothers Who Lost Sons to Police Violence

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:26
New York City Mural Honors Mothers Who Lost Sons to Police Violence

New York City visual artist Sophia Dawson decided to pay her respects to black and Latino mothers who lost their sons to police and extra-judicial violence. In a new mural called "Every Mother's Son" on the Lower East Side, Dawson honors Kadiatou Diallou, Mamie Till, Constance Malcolm, Margarita Rosario, Gwen Carr, Lesley McSpadden and Iris Baez.

Dawson told Ideal Glass:

My art is a tool to bring people from different ethnicities, social statuses, beliefs and backgrounds together, to educate them and to develop a dialogue between them and the characters I depict. I want to highlight the significance of these figures and the relevance of their struggle today. They have been intentionally excluded from mainstream American History and their stories must not be forgotten... I always start working from black, as a conscious artistic exercise but also as a statement: it represents my opposition to the art education I received in institutions where I was taught that art had to begin on a 'pure and white' surface.


Last night we rapped at about midnight. Please stop by 22 East 2nd Street btw Bowery and Second Ave. from now through November to visit the "Every Mother's Son" mural. Featuring portraits of some of the mothers who have lost their children to police brutality and racism in this country. Thank you to all who came out to help @maatmoon @loukster @cheeks__xox @raytion @sarebear329 and to all that shared words of encouragement while we worked. Standing in front of Constance Malcolm (mother of Ramarley Graham) and Margarita Rosario (mother of Anthony Garcia) ????

A photo posted by Sophia (@iamwetpaint) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:04am PDT

Every mother's son. Complete. Made possible by @idealglass

A photo posted by Sophia (@iamwetpaint) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:57am PDT

(h/t For Harriet)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Facing Race Spotlight: Arts Activist Ken Chen

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:24
 Arts Activist Ken Chen

Ken Chen is the executive director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop (AAWW), which is dedicated to advancing the future of Asian-American culture through literary events, fellowships, online magazines and more. AAWW was started in 1991 by a group of organizers, novelists and poets who would be the only people of color at literary events they'd attend in New York City. The AAWW has since hosted events with writers such as Junot Díaz, Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri. Chen joined the organization in 2008. He says he's always been a writer, but before AAWW he was a lawyer who focused on the rights of undocumented people. In Dallas, on November 14, Chen will talk about where poetry fits into the social justice process at Facing Race, the biennial conference held by Colorlines' publisher, Race Forward. He recently spoke with Colorlines about Asian-American identity, poetry and the power of weirdness. 

What makes AAWW unique?

AAWW is dedicated to inventing the future of Asian-American culture. One way we're different from a lot of literary organizations or Asian-American organizations is that we see how Asian-American identity can be oppositional, resistant, weird and alternative. A lot of times, racial justice programs are often about liberal accommodation like, "How can we get into the elevator to go into the hierarchy?" With [AAWW], we ask how an alternative art space can imagine a version of Asian-American identity that's weird, that's different, that's avant-garde in aesthetic and radical in politics. Something [we've] thought about a lot is how we can use more reflective, introspective interior modes like writing, poetry and fiction, and how they can be brought into the social justice movement.

You've used the word "weird" a couple of times. What's that about? 

Weird? I really like the word weird. I think the point of living is to be weird, to give yourself permission to not cover yourself, to not be the person other people think you're supposed to be. It's a struggle because every place you go has its ways of institutionalizing you--even within social justice. 

"Weird" is also a part of a slogan for this project we're doing now called The Countercultralists. It's about thinking of ethnic spaces not as safe spaces or corporate affinity groups but as spaces that are too weird, too illegible, too non-conformist to be assimilated into the mainstream. 

What was your entry into AAWW?

I'm a writer and a poet, and I wrote a book called "Juvenilia." It's about immigration and doomed romantic relationships. But before AAWW, I was a lawyer. I worked at a large firm but I did [a lot of] pro bono and social justice work. One project I did was to defend the asylum claims of a girl who was from Guinea. She was undocumented but didn't realize she was not a citizen until the Department of Homeland Security stormed her house and basically abducted her and her father. The [government said] they thought she was a suicide bomber. It had elements of the immigration debate along with post 9-11 civil liberties [issues].

Most people wouldn't relate lawyering--even pro-bono lawyering--to radical arts. How did that connection happen for you?

I've had a lot of different life [experiences] with [different] kinds of people. I've always been a writer and a poet and essayist, and it was a big shock becoming a lawyer because every time you have a job or a role, you bring with you a certain type of ideology. I think being a poet and being a lawyer are probably ideological opposites. When you're a poet you think about your interiority, your ideas, what shape you can give to writing. It's all in your private life. Being a lawyer is the complete opposite--the writing has no shape. If you could write like a bulldozer crossed with a math equation, then that would be the ideal writing style for a lawyer. It's all about the public sphere of state power and so it's really challenged me a lot in terms of what I believed as an artist. ... Lawyers think about change in a very technocratic, policy-based way. But artists and activists are usually about working with communities, changing ideas--it's less of an elite strategy. Going to law school really politicized me in a certain way. But it was the workshop that radicalized me.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Not So Skin Deep

Hyphen Blog - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 11:01

Beauty has a language all its own, and every culture speaks a different dialect. In Taiwan, my temporary home, navigating the impossible beauty standards can feel as dangerous as weathering the typhoon season. 

read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

In Search of a Sanctuary for Migrant Children

New America Media - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:45
Image: Sanctuary Movement Forum in Berkeley with Pastor Pablo Morataya officiating (in red scarf, center). Photo credit: Alex Madonik.OAKLAND, Calif. -- Edwin can hardly understand Spanish and is slowly learning English, but his biggest dilemma now is finding a way... Jenny Manrique http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:42
Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

This week, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a suite of articles examining an enduring phenomena of academia: the dearth of black men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Far from being a great mystery, the troublingly low numbers of black men in science and math fields is a well-tracked, if entrenched, issue. In 1992, black men received 138 of the more than 11,000 STEM doctorate degrees awarded in the U.S. In 2012, they were only 334 of 16,545 STEM doctorate degree graduates, The Chronicle of Higher Ed reported.

Stacey Patton, writing for The Chronicle, tracks some of the myriad contributing factors, as well as experts' frustration with the undertones of the discourse:

Among the factors are academic and cultural isolation, the difficulty of performing in the face of negative stereotypes and low expectations among faculty members, a lack of mentors of color and friendship networks, concerns about financial debt, inadequate advising and emotional support during times of stress, and lack of exposure to hands-on research.

Some scholars have also argued, in reports and academic journals over the years, that the movement to broaden minority participation has tended to focus more on "fixing" the black male student than on addressing the structural and institutional forces that undermine his academic achievement and sense of belonging on campus.

The numbers have improved over the years, but are still a long way off from parity with blacks' representation in the U.S. population. In 1992, 4 percent of those who earned doctorate degrees science and engineering were black, and 3 percent were Latino, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. In 2012, blacks made up 6 percent of those who received science or engineering doctorate degrees, while Latinos made up 7 percent. 

Head to the Chronicle of Higher Ed for their suite of articles on the topic.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Q&A: Understanding Ebola

New America Media - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:38
???Ed. Note: Since a 2-year-old child fell ill in Guinea last December, the Ebola virus has spread through West Africa, first with an outbreak that seemed to have died out in May and then with an explosive second wave of... Laura Kurtzman http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

New Video Series Shows How Comedians of Color Turn Pain Into Laughter

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 10:23
New Video Series Shows How Comedians of Color Turn Pain Into Laughter

Tanzina Vega and Channon Hodge of the New York Times launched a new video series today called, "Off Color." It takes a look at how some today's hottest comedians of color use race in their material. In Hari Kondabolu's words, "It's incredible how we recycle pain and turn it into laughter." He's featured in the new series, along with Kristina Wong, Issa Rae and Lalo Alcaraz.* Check out their interviews below. 

Hari Kondabolu:

Kristina Wong:

Issa Rae:


Lalo Alcaraz:

*Post has been updated to correct spelling of Lalo Alcaraz's surname. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Midterm Elections: What Do Black Women Want?

New America Media - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:57
  Making sense of high-profile House, Senate and gubernatorial races this tight will mean breaking down every voting bloc into the microscopic bits of data to parse through in the postmortem. And of all the big mysteries that will be... Charles D. Ellison http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Russell Wilson Doesn't Care What You Think About His Blackness

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 07:50
Russell Wilson Doesn't Care What You Think About His Blackness

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson really isn't moved by this newfound fascination with whether he's "not black enough." Amid reports of locker room strife and alleged complaints from other black teammates that put his racial identity into question, Wilson told reporters:

"I think it was people trying to find ways to knock us down, but we just keep swinging and keep believing in each other. We keep believing in the people that we have in the room and we keep believing in the coaching staff. We keep believing in our fans, we keep believing in each other and there is no doubt that we are together. There is no doubt that we are more together than ever before.

"And so, in terms of me, the 'not black enough' thing I think you are talking about, I don't even know what that means. I don't know. I believe that I am an educated, young male that is not perfect. That tries to do things right, that just tries to lead and tries to help others and tries to wins games for this football team, for this franchise. And that's all I focus on."

That didn't stop NBA legend and current sports analyst Charles Barkley from blaming black folks in an interview on Philadelphia radio. "For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you're not a thug or an idiot, you're not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don't break the law, you're not a good black person. It's a dirty, dark secret in the black community." 

But as Gina Torres writes at For Harriet, "there is no single definition of  'black people.' Torres continues:

"Black people--including African-Americans and other descendants of the African Diaspora--are not a monolith. We are all shaped by our various experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographical location. But given the fact that mainstream society often uses the behavior of one Black person to represent us all, Barkley's broad generalization is extremely myopic and disappointing. His statements allow for non-Black people to sign off on this highly problematic sentiment."

Whenever a premiere NFL team hits a rough patch and loses a couple of games, there's talk of trouble in the locker room. Obviously, this attack on Wilson seems deeply personal, but chances are, if his team keeps winning, the talk will die down significantly. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 07:09
Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

Here's what I'm reading up on this morning: 

  • The rate of babies born with symptoms on the spectrum of fetal alcohol symptom disorder in the U.S. is much higher than expected, at up to nearly 5 percent of all births. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Colorlines - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 07:03
Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Fast food workers in Denmark earn a minimum of $20-an-hour. Meanwhile, in the U.S., fast food workers earn on average $8.90-an-hour and roughly half rely on some form of public assistance. The provocative comparative analysis in yesterday's New York Times drives home the difference through the choices available to two Burger King employees, 24-year-old Dane, Hampus Elofsson and 26-year-old Floridian, Anthony Moore.

At the end of a typical week, Elofsson still has spending money:

On a recent afternoon, [he] ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

Across the pond, Moore, a shift manager and single father of two earns $9-an-hour and regularly falls behind in lighting and water bills. He receives food stamps and Medicaid for his daughters. He is uninsured.

Of course there are significant differences between the United States and Denmark, not least the cost of living, universal healthcare and collective bargaining. Read more to understand the differences at The New York Times.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

La Guelaguetza: Indigenous Dance and Music Festival Now Part of Bakersfield

New America Media - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 00:25
  BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Thousands of Central Valley residents descended on Bakersfield this month to celebrate “Guelaguetza,” a vibrant festival of indigenous dance and music with a long tradition in Mexico. Since its start in 2001, the Bakersfield festival, mirroring... Alfredo Camacho/ Photos by Daniel Jimenez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Record Number of Asian Americans On the November Ballot

New America Media - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 15:37
 Korean American candidate Roy Cho from New Jersey is one of 22 Asian Pacific Americans vying for a congressional seat in 12 different states and U.S. territories this November. That’s a notable jump from 2008, when 13 candidates ran for... Koream Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Erykah Badu Talks 'Completing the Cypher' With Childish Gambino

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 11:58
Erykah Badu Talks 'Completing the Cypher' With Childish Gambino

Okayplayer TV caught up with Erykah Badu after a recent performance with Childish Gambino at Berkeley's Greek Theater. She talks about intergenerational artistry, calling Gambino one of her "frequency heroes." Watch the full interview below. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Palestinian Vocalist Merna Has New Song Produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 11:41
Palestinian Vocalist Merna Has New Song Produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Born in Palestine and raised in Toronto, singer Merna made a name for herself by creating music for other artists including DJ Jazzy Jeff and James Poyser of The Roots. But now, she's breaking out on her own with a new album, "The Calling." 

"Musically, I always aim to break my own ground and delve a little more into my history and things that I've been influenced by," the singer said in a press release. "For example, there are sounds and rhythms on this album that are African and Arab inspired. Not a lot of people know that my first ever band in Abu Dhabi was a rock band, and that I'm classically trained in piano."

Below, check out live performance of the song's lead single, "A Little More," which was produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Police Ready for Riots Ahead of Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson

New America Media - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:02
 Missouri police are steeling themselves for a grand jury's decision on whether to charge the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old this summer in a St. Louis suburb.Officers are stockpiling riot gear and taking refresher courses... Washington Informer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

San Francisco's New Spray-Painted Carlos Santana Mural is Amazing

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:39
San Francisco's New Spray-Painted Carlos Santana Mural is Amazing

Long before Dropbox's tech bros invaded San Francisco's Mission District and made headlines for picking fights with neighborhood kids, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana called the historic neighborhood home. Over the weekend, the city's art commission paid respect to one of its most beloved sons by unveiling a new spray-painted mural by fellow hometown artist Mel Waters at the corner of 19th and Mission. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Repost. Thank you for the dope shot. @shaneywhanie and the love from #eltecolote newspaper #community #lamission #sanfrancisco

A photo posted by Mel (@melwaters) on Oct 10, 2014 at 1:13am PDT

Categories: Diversity Headlines

What Happens When You're Tired of Saying 'Dear White People?'

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:41
What Happens When You're Tired of Saying 'Dear White People?'

I went into "Dear White People" wanting to hate it, but I didn't. The film did exactly what it said it would do: parody the experiences of black students on a predominately white college campus. It was funny at times, heavy-handed at others, but overall, it was good. Was it a game-changing race film? No. Could it have done more to address more subtle forms of racism? Sure. But as A.O. Scott wrote at the New York Times,"everyone will see it a little differently." At the very least, "Dear White People" has introduced a young black filmmaker, Justin Simien, to a national audience and shown that he's got the talent to do even better work in the future. 

But now, several days after seeing it, I can't get over how much the film centers on how black characters react to racism from their white counterparts. That's not surprising--the title, after all, is directed at white folks. But there's a way of talking about race in America that centers the experiences of white people that irks me. 

Simien's story follows a group of black college students, but mostly one: Samantha White, a biracial campus activist and host of a radio show, "Dear White People," who is struggling to find her political identity. There's also the black, gay campus journalist, Lionel, who's fighting for a byline at the school's most prestigious paper; the black dean's son, Troy, who wants to join an exclusive and all-white campus club lead by the son of his father's rival; and there's Coco, the dark-skinned black girl who wears blue contacts and wants to catch the attention of a black reality TV show producer. Each character is reacting to a very specific level of white racism that ultimately shapes their lives. Their fates come together when a riot breaks out after a racist campus party.

(Spoiler alert) Sam eventually backs away from her Black Student Union activism, calls herself an anarchist, reconciles with her white dad and openly embraces her white boyfriend. Lionel starts his own campus newsletter while Troy uses the incident to run for student body president

There are some plot lines that might make you cringe, like Sam's irritating role as the tragic mulatto and the holier-than-thou Black Student Union member. But overall, Simien's film delivers a satirical look at college racism seemingly ripped from the headlines about incidents at USCSanta Barbara or Ohio University

That's to say, we know these stories well, and that's at least partially why Simien's debut effort has gotten so much mainstream attention. (He received a glowing review in the New York Times, a spot on "The Colbert Report" and Vogue coverage.) If we can't do much about racism, then we can at least laugh at it, right?

The white racism in "Dear White People" could've also been ripped from the headlines of my own predominately white alma mater, the Claremont Colleges. In 2003, in the fall of my freshman year, a string of high-profile racist incidents swept across the Claremont, California, grounds. A cross was burned on one end of campus. A car was vandalized on another. Local media pounced, the FBI investigated, and the administration held rallies at which professors of color gave speeches. The students of color on campus, especially the black ones, were rightfully angry, and there was never a time when I felt more exposed than I did then.

Within months, the FBI closed its case. The news cameras left. Reforms, like more campus resources for students of color, were enacted. We moved on.

I don't say that to mean that we in any way forgot about what happened or moved "past race." But reacting to white racism was not the focus of our experience. It may have been the bass line to our college days, but we made up the hooks. We supported one another in the way that students of color often do when they're totally outnumbered and coming into their political consciousness. There were no epic stances against racism per se; it was more individual. My closest friends, many of whom were black and members of our campus' Black Student Union, vented to one another about how few students of color there were in British Literature--and the fact that we had to take British Literature. When one of my best friends moved off campus to deal with a medical emergency, we helped. When another lost her brother because of a senseless dispute over a PlayStation, we went to the funeral. When one of us drove three hours to visit his brother in prison, we were there to meet him afterwards to hear about how much he missed his brother's laugh.

It's those stories that I'd like to see more of. Not the ones where we're being acted upon or reacting against, but those hugely important stories that don't make headlines. The ones about your best friend's certifiably non-existent game. The awkward sex stories. Or the tension that arises in a family when you finally "make it." It's the "Boomerangs" and "School Dazes" of today. Yes, it's important to name overt racism. But it's also important to name the ways that we thrive in spite of it. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Janay Rice Speaks Out About Those Racist Domestic Violence Halloween Costumes

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:18
Janay Rice Speaks Out About Those Racist Domestic Violence Halloween Costumes

Over the weekend, some awful human beings decided to dress up like Ray Rice -- blackface paint and all -- and poke fun at his brutal assault on his then-fiance, Janay, that got him kicked out of the NFL. Here's one that appeared on TMZ:


Keith Olbermann has since started retweeting others:


Oh great. Who's got large # for Child Services? RT @tchopstl @mdlamaster And also this one. pic.twitter.com/AkUoLTlr6l

-- Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 26, 2014

And another one RT @mdlamaster @KeithOlbermann And we have a winner in the proud daughter sweepstakes for morons. pic.twitter.com/KWlzNK9B7p

-- Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 26, 2014

Janay Rice, the woman at the center of the controversy, spoke out on Twitter:

.@TMZ it's sad, that my suffering amuses others

-- Janay Rice (@JanayRice) October 22, 2014
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Mindy Kaling Is Not Malala Yousafzai

Colorlines - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:18
Mindy Kaling Is Not Malala Yousafzai

Mindy Kaling is a 35-year-old Indian-American writer and creator of the hit show "The Mindy Project." Malala Yousafzai is a 17-year-old Pakastani activist who just won a Nobel Peace Prize for championing girls' education. They're not the same person. But the New York Times unearthed an embarassing episode from this month's New Yorker Festival:

As she stood by the banquettes, a tipsy man in his 80s cornered her and showered her with compliments, apparently mistaking her for Malala Yousafzai. "Congratulations on your Nobel Prize," he said, before expressing wonder at how well she had recovered from Taliban gunshots.

Ms. Kaling was speechless. "Did he really think I'm Malala?" she said when he was safely out of sight. "And that if I were, I'd be at the Boom Boom Room?"

Still, she thought it was pretty funny: "That's the best thing that's happened all night."

But, you know, this sorta thing happens all the time. Casual racism -- guess there's not much to do but laugh it off, right?

(h/t Vox)

Categories: Diversity Headlines
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