Diversity Headlines

Prop. 47: How My First Felony Led to My First Time Voting

New America Media - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 00:05
Ed. Note: The author of this piece, Stacey McGruder, caught a felony for petty theft after taking clothes for her baby at the age of 18. That began a cycle of incarceration that lasted for 19 years. McGruder argues that... Steeda McGruder http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Lupita Nyong'o Named Glamour's 'Woman of the Year'

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:32
Lupita Nyong'o Named Glamour's 'Woman of the Year'

It's been one helluva year for Lupita Nyong'o. The actress won an Oscar for her supporting role in "12 Years a Slave" and became one of the most recognized young faces in Hollywood. Now she's been named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine. In an interview, she talked about being a role model to young black girls:

GLAMOUR: You've become a role model for many girls--black girls in particular. Who were your role models, growing up? 
LN: Oprah played a big role in my understanding of what it meant to be female and to really step into your own power. I wouldn't even call her a role model; she was literally a reference point. You have the dictionary, you have the Bible, you have Oprah.

GLAMOUR: Do you feel a responsibility to young women out there? 
LN: I feel a responsibility to myself and my parents and the people whose love has gotten me this far--people who were in my life before fame. That's where I get my sense of self. It's deadly for anyone to take on that role of a deity; it's not sustainable. I've got tons of flaws. Call my mother--she'll tell you! She keeps it real. Sometimes you don't want to hear the truth; she'll tell it to you out of love.

Read more at Glamour

I am honored to be @glamourmag's Woman of The Year. And what a year it has been! I talk about it and way more here: goo.gl/qEWJt0. #GlamourWOTY

A photo posted by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:19am PST

Categories: Diversity Headlines

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mass Incarceration?

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:05
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mass Incarceration?

There appears to be a widening consensus among policymakers if not the general public that mass incarceration in the U.S. is a problem. If so, now what? How do you stall or unwind a penal system that imprisons and supervises 7 million people--just a million shy of the population of New York City? Where blacks and Latinos make up 30 percent of the U.S. population but nearly 60 percent of the prison population? Many around the country are watching California's latest initiative. Tomorrow voters will decide on Proposition 47, which could reduce sentencing for tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders annually and shift savings to schools, victim services and mental health and drug treatment. If Prop 47 passes it could be a signal to other states similarly experimenting with or hesitant to pursue sentencing reduction that they should forge ahead. 

More than 60 percent of California voters favor Prop 47, according to a September poll cited in Governing magazine, but law enforcement and crime victims groups have lined up against it. Once laws are on the books it's extremely difficult to change them, a former 'tough on crime' legislator told Colorlines. And complicating substantive reforms, too, is fear and bias. Read Lauren Kirchner's overview of the latest research in Pacific Standard for more.

 

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

I Was A 'Tough On Crime' Lawmaker. Here's Why I Changed

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 09:25
I Was A 'Tough On Crime' Lawmaker. Here's Why I Changed

Next week's midterm elections provide a potent reminder that Virginia is one of three states in the nation where more than 20 percent of African-Americans can't vote because of a felony conviction. Just 20 percent of the population, blacks comprise 61 percent of state prisoners and 72 percent of those convicted of a drug offense. These are just some of the repercussions of the "tough on crime" era that rest heavy on the shoulders of former Republican state legislator Mark Earley. In the 1990s when states were outdoing each other on anti-crime bills, the 60-year-old father of six tells me, "Virginia was right there leading the way, and I was out front banging the drums."

For more than two hours, Earley, an Evangelical Christian and former attorney general of Virginia, sat down with Colorlines to talk about the criminal justice system, prisons and changing public opinion. Here's how he realized that his generation had gone too far--and the work he's been doing over the last 15 years to help undo the overly punitive system that they built. 

You belong to that 'tough on crime' generation of lawmakers. What kinds of laws did you help to pass in Virginia and why?

I've been involved in the criminal justice system really all of my working life. When I was elected to the [Virginia state] senate in 1988, I went on two committees that deal with all the criminal justice issues in Virginia. In the '90s every state was getting tough on crime, and Virginia was right there leading the way. And I was out front banging the drums. So for my 10 years in the senate I was very involved in criminal justice issues. I was tough on crime.

How so?

I was very involved in abolishing parole in Virginia, in lowering the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults from 16 to 14, [and in passing] truth in sentencing, a lot of mandatory minimum laws [and] three strikes and you're out. And at the time I thought all of that was good because my view was criminals deserve to be behind bars and the longer they're behind bars the better off everybody is.

So how did you get to a point where you realized, well, maybe I've made a mistake or, gone too far?

By the time I got through with serving 10 years on the senate and working on all of those issues, I was beginning to come to the conclusion that we had done everything we could do to get tough on crime --and that we ought to look at what we could do to get to the root cause of crime. It wasn't that I thought at that time that what I had done was not a good idea. It's just that I thought, "We need a little balance to this." That's when I first began to get a feeling that we'd moved in the wrong direction.

mark earley 10-31-14.jpgDo you recall your first steps in what was to become your new direction?

[When I was elected attorney general of Virginia in 1998] I started this task force on gangs and youth violence. One of the things I said I was going to do was go into all the juvenile detention facilities in Virginia. I asked the directors to let me sit down behind closed doors, one-on-one with juveniles who had been convicted of violent crimes. I interviewed about 45 kids over a six-month period. They [ran] the gamut--white, African-American, Latino, Asian, male, female. One of the questions I asked all of them was, "Tell me a little bit about your family." And all except for one of the children I talked to was raised in a home without a father. There was one young man who stood out to me who was about 16 years old. He was from Richmond, an African-American male, and he already had been convicted of two homicides. 

Wait. How old did you say he was?

Sixteen. So I remember talking to him and I said, "Tell me a little bit about your family." So he started telling me about his mom and his aunt. I said, "Well, tell me about your dad." And he said, "He left when I was 4. I only saw him one time; I was 12 and I was on the street selling drugs and he came up to make a buy from me." They recognized one another and his dad left. So here's me on the one hand, I get up in the morning, I pick up a newspaper and I see where a kid commits a violent crime in one of the projects in Richmond and I think, "How does this happen? That's horrible." And then in talking with that kid I realize, he never had a chance. It didn't make me think that he was excused for his actions, but it helped me understand why a lot of people end up on a different side of the criminal justice system than other people. It was really just a wake-up call for me.

In 2001, you unsuccessfully ran for governor. Then you left electoral politics and from 2002 to 2011 you were president of Prison Fellowship, the outreach ministry that champions sentencing and reentry reforms. How many former prosecutors get involved in ministering to prisoners and their families and helping them find jobs and housing after prison?

Not that many.

So you would have been a rarity in that circle.

Yeah. Where it really became interesting was when I would meet with inmates, particularly as a group, and tell them my story. They were looking at me like, "What the hell are you doing here? You're why we're in here." But then I basically would tell them [that] for the first 47 years of my life I didn't think about prisoners--and when I did, I basically thought, "The longer they're locked up the better." Growing up, I didn't know anybody who'd been in prison. They were people someplace else. [And] I think I was really not unlike most lawmakers. We didn't really have any knowledge of the people we were writing these laws for. One of the things that's happening with mass incarceration is that it's hollowing out [communities], it's destroying generations. It's just devastating.

Where did you learn this? Where's a community in Virginia where that could be true?

Go into any African-American community in the projects, in a low-income area and just go walk to any door. Somebody's in prison. Somebody's kid or daddy or mama was in prison. Economically, it's just hollowing out these communities for generations because you come out of prison as a felon, you can't get a job. It's awful. You can't invent a more insidious way to destroy--and when I say "community" I'm not just talking about a geographical community, but families--you can't invent a more insidious way to destroy two or three generations of a community than locking people up and basically putting them under this incredible burden of being [labeled] a felon when they come out.

That is a really big change from "tough on crime" to now, seeing the families and communities hurt by those same laws you helped to pass.

Yeah, it's a big change. It was a big change policy-wise and it was a big change in how I view people. I'd read the Bible daily, since 1972 or '73, but you know you can read the Bible and miss a whole lot. As I began to spend time in prisons, I realized the people I was talking to were no different from me or my kids. [They just had] a different set of circumstances. [And understanding how God used biblical figures like Moses and Paul helped me to see] that even people in prison who deserved to be there, and maybe deserved to be there for a long time, were an opportunity waiting to happen, not a closed chapter. And by the same token I [also] realized a lot of the people we were putting in prison didn't need to be in prison. People who need to be in prison are people who are an actual danger to other people--not people we're mad at.

If the goal is to reduce mass incarceration and ensure public safety how important are prosecutors?

They're important but not as important as lawmakers. Having said that though, prosecutors in every case exercise prosecutorial discretion. And what I see happening a lot is overcharging. Also, at every sentencing for every crime, the prosecution weighs in with what they think. They almost never weigh in to have a sentence be less than what the guidelines call for--even if they agree with a lesser sentence. [But] at the end of the day, prosecutors enforce the laws that are on the books. So policymakers and lawmakers are the most important.

So then we're getting into public opinion. Is it changing around mass incarceration and the criminal justice system?

[Yes,] because once you get to 2 million people locked up, there's nobody that doesn't have a family member or loved one or a friend that's in prison. So all of a sudden you can't be like me much anymore, and say, "I don't know any criminals. I don't know anybody who's locked up." That's not true anymore.

I'm not sure I agree. I think that's true for some communities and not others. I mean, what are the indications that you have that general public opinion has changed?

So here's the biggest indicator out here if you follow politics. Crime has not been used as a wedge issue in any major campaign in the U.S. in the last 15 to 20 years. The last time was Bush One when he ran for president and put on the Willie Horton ad. That was the height of it. [Crime] won't be an issue in 2016. Terrorism will be--but not domestic crime.

I didn't think of looking at what politicians are not talking about as a measure of how far we've come.

Yeah. The change in public opinion is being reflected by the way politicians run their campaigns. But that doesn't mean yet these same politicians are ready to undo a lot of the things that have been done. It's extremely difficult to take a law off the books. Regardless of what the issue is, it's just really difficult to turn back something once it gets going. When I was at Prison Fellowship I spoke at a lot of churches--African-American churches, white churches, Evangelical, main-line Protestant. I could go and get any church congregation in America, and you could go with me this Sunday and you can go ask: "How many of you have a loved one or know someone who's currently or has been incarcerated?" And you'd be amazed at the number of hands that would go up. Now the sad thing is that if you go to an African-American church, almost every hand goes up. But even in a white Evangelical, suburban or Protestant churches it's over half.

I don't think many people know that.

Everybody's got a kid, nephew or sister who's been on drugs or who's been on alcohol. So they've ended up being incarcerated for using, breaking and entering, shoplifting. And if they've been on drugs they've done these things multiple times so they've ended up spending some time behind bars--not just two weeks.

Of course the big news this past year is that there's unprecedented bipartisan support for criminal justice reform on the Hill. As an elder in this big tent, any parting thoughts?

There's a lot of common ground now that didn't exist 15 or 20 years ago. Never existed. With Rand Paul, it'll be really interesting to watch his candidacy because he's got a four- or five-point agenda on criminal justice reform. Whether he wins or loses in his bid for the Republican [presidential] nomination, it'll be interesting to see how much traction these issues gain. But the very fact he's chosen to talk about them, emphasize them as a potential presidential candidate, it's an indication of where things are going.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch Prince Rock the House on 'Saturday Night Live'

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 08:54
Watch Prince Rock the House on 'Saturday Night Live'

Prince offered up a thrilling performance with his band, 3rdEyeGirl, and singer Lianne La Havas on "Saturday Night Live." ICYMI, check it out below. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Used to Push Back on Being Identified as Black

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 08:52

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes a common experience for many immigrants: pushing back against "black identity" in the U.S. "I found myself taking on a new identity, oh, no rather I found a new identity thrust upon me," Adichie tells journalist Michele Norris who founded The Race Card Project to foster candid conversations about race. Adichie, of course, obliges in a substantive 15-minute interview. "It always makes me happy making people uncomfortable," she says of reaction to her novel, "Americanah." "Discomfort is a necessary condition for a certain kind of justice, a certain kind of progress." For more Adichie, including her reaction to American coverage of Ebola and Africa, check out the interview, part of this weekend's Washington Ideas Forum:

I like to say I'm happily black. So I don't have a problem at all sort of having skin the color of chocolate. But in this country I came to realize...that meant something, that it came with baggage and with all of these assumptions. And that the idea of black achievement was a remarkable thing. Whereas for me in Nigeria, it wasn't. It was not. And I think that's when I started to internalize what it meant and that's when I started to push back. So for a long time I didn't want to identify as black. ...

It's very easy when you're an immigrant and you come to this country it's very easy to internalize the mainstream ideas. It's easy for example to think, "Oh, the ghettos are full of black people because they're just lazy and they like to live in the ghettos," because that's sort of what mainstream thinking is. And then when you read about the American housing policies for the past 100 years it starts to make sense. And it forces you to let go of these simple stereotypes.

(h/t The Atlantic)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Debunking the Myth That Latinos Are Anti-Choice

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 08:47
Debunking the Myth That Latinos Are Anti-Choice

I spent Valentine's Day 2007 at a community center in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I was there with a colleague from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) where I was working as an organizer. We'd come to facilitate a reproductive justice advocacy training with a group of local women. They varied in age from early 20s to 50s, and had been gathered by a group of local promotoras--health promoters--who had been working in rural, isolated trailer park-like communities (known as colonias) with no municipal resources (running water, sewer systems, trash collection).

At this point the organization had done five such trainings in different parts of the country, but we knew this one would be different. It was our most rural effort to date, and it was also going to be entirely in Spanish. The women who made up this group of 25 were mostly recent immigrants from the Mexican towns just miles away across the border. We were unsure how the conversations, in particular the one about access to abortion, would go.

When we talked about abortion access, the first comments were, not surprisingly, about religion. One woman shared that her priest spoke against abortion during mass. But it didn't take long for other kinds of comments to come forth. One woman talked about wanting to make sure her daughter could take care of herself. Another described how she supported a friend during an abortion. When the conversation ended, it was clear that while their opinions about abortion varied, few of the women in the room would be willing to impose their personal beliefs on other women. I walked away from that week reaffirmed in my belief that the stereotypes about the conservatism of the Latino community were just that--stereotypes. The reality was much more nuanced and complex.

I no longer work for NLIRH, but their work in Texas has continued. A new poll they commissioned in late October supports what I experienced that week in South Texas--Latino attitudes on abortion are much less polemic than we're encouraged to believe. When it comes down to it, the majority of Latino likely voters don't think politicians should be able to interfere in a woman's decision regarding abortion.

The Texas-based survey was conducted by an independent research firm that reached 603 likely Latino voters by landline or cell phone. It was offered in English or Spanish. In their report, NLIRH compares the findings with a national survey conducted by a different research firm in 2011 that also examined Latino likely voters' attitudes on abortion.

Across the board, on a variety of questions regarding abortion, contraception and political interference, the majority of respondents were in favor of access to abortion and contraception. Some highlights of the findings:

  • Seventy eight percent agreed with this statement: "A woman has the right to make her own personal decisions about abortion without politicians interfering." (Sixty three percent strongly agreed, and 70 percent of the Republicans polled also agreed with the statement.)
  • Three quarters of those surveyed agreed with this statement: "We should not judge someone who feels they are not ready to become a parent."
  • Eighty percent said they would give at least "a little" support "if a close friend or family member told you she had an abortion." (Fifty eight percent said they would offer a lot of support.)
  • Sixty percent agreed with this statement: "Even though some church leaders take a position against abortion, when it comes to the law, I believe it should remain legal."
  • Seventy six percent agreed with this statement: "I consider birth control part of basic health care that should be covered by health insurance, no matter where you work."

The timing and geographic focus of this polling is important. Texas in particular has faced an onslaught of cuts and attacks on access to women's reproductive health at the hands of Republican state lawmakers. Family planning funding has been significantly reduced, directly impacting the ability of women like those I met in 2007 to access basic reproductive health care services. Clinics in their neighborhoods have shut down or they've stopped offering free or low-cost care to the community, which is mostly undocumented and uninsured. Texas is also a politically conservative state with a huge Latino population.

Initial reports of early voter turnout in Texas suggest that recent registration and get-out-the-vote efforts are working. Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who came to prominence through her fight against significant anti-abortion measures passed in the state, has been a driving force behind the campaign to increase turnout. El Paso County, a heavily Latino area, saw a three-fold increase in early voter turnout as compared to the 2010 midterm elections.

This polling suggests that Latino voters may be turned off by the heavy-handed conservative approach to limiting reproductive rights. This could change how Latinos respond to the Republican party, even in red states like Texas. As part of the NLIRH polling, respondents were provided a brief overview of the recent legislative changes. They learned that In the past three years, politicians across the country have passed 205 laws to make it harder for a woman to access abortion care. Then they were asked: "Do you think these laws are a step in the right direction or a step in the wrong direction?" Fifty eight percent replied "the wrong direction."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Thousands Protest Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 07:15
Thousands Protest Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

Thousands of protesters gathered at Minneapolis's TCF Stadium on Sunday to tell Washington D.C.'s NFL team owner Dan Snyder: "We are not mascots." The Minnesota Vikings played host to Snyder's team amid the long-planned protests, which reportedly brought together more than 5,000 people.

Why Minneapolis? Three big reasons: First, it's a NFL city with a sizable Native population. Second, the Vikings are playing at the University of Minnesota this season as they await their new stadium; campus activists and community members have been organizing there for months. Finally, there's precedent. The Washington Post noted that in 1992, when the Buffalo Bills played D.C. in the only Super Bowl hosted in Minnesota, an estimated 3,000 demonstrators turned out at the now-demolished Metrodome to denounce the team's name.

Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, whose lawsuit led the U.S. Patent Office to revoke the team's trademark in June because it disparages Natives, summed up the mood in Minneapolis on Sunday.

"It's a good day to be indigenous," Blackhorse told the Star Tribune. "I'm so glad to be here with you today. Minnesota Natives don't mess around."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota also attended the protest.

"We are here to tell the NFL there is no honor in a racial slur," McCollum told the Washington Post. "Here in Minnesota we have 11 proud tribal nations, but only 150 years ago, their ancestors, men and women, elders and children, were hunted and murdered for profit. This was a government-funded policy of genocide. The pain of this brutal and shameful history is still with us. If there is any decency in the NFL, the time is now -- change the mascot."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ferguson's No-Fly Zone Created to Keep Media Out, Prince on SNL, Baby Robot Penguin

Colorlines - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 07:10
Ferguson's No-Fly Zone Created to Keep Media Out, Prince on SNL, Baby Robot Penguin

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

  • Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman who advocated for death with dignity, takes her own life
  • Ever feel like playing Super PacMan or 900 other retro arcade games? Now you can

  • Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope between two Chicago skyscrapers. Blindfolded
  • Baby robot penguin is about the cutest and perhaps most innovative development in behavioral ecology. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Editor's Note: Asians and Latinos in the U.S. Unite! Call for Submissions

Hyphen Blog - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 21:51

Hyphen is collaborating with NPR's Latino USA to explore Latino-Asian intersections and foster solidarity. Submit now! 

read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Q&A: ??Ebola??

New America Media - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 09:25
EnglishEbola????????????????????????????“Ebola????”??12?1?????????1?9??????????????Ebola????????????????????????Charles Chiu??????Ebola???????????????Ebola???????????? Ebola????????????????????Ebola?????Ebola??????????????????????????Guinea???????Sierra Leone???????Liberia???Ebola???????????????????????????????????????????Ebola???????????????????? ???Ebola???????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????Ebola????????????????????????????Ebola????????????????Ebola?????????3??????Ebola???????????Ebola??????????????????????????Ebola?????????????????Thomas Eric Duncan?????Duncan???????Ebola?????Ebola???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Emory University Hospital????????????????????????????????????Ebola??? ????????????Ebola?????????Ebola??????????Ebola???????????????????Ebola???????????????Emory??????????????????????????????????????Ebola?????????????????????????Ebola?????????????Ebola?????????????????? Ebola??????????Ebola???????????????????????????????Ebola???Ebola????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????Ebola????????????????????????Ebola?????????????????Ebola?????????????????????????????WHO???????????FDA?????????NIH?????????????????????????2015??????????????????????? Ebola??????ZMapp??????????Ebola??????????????????Ebola???????????????????????????? ???????????????????????Ebola??????????????????????Ebola???????????Ebola????????????????????... Laura Kurtzman http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Fresno Youth Experience San Joaquin River for the First Time

New America Media - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 00:00
Editor’s Note: The San Joaquin River is just minutes away from Riverpark, one of the most prominent shopping areas in Fresno, and yet many Fresnans have never experienced the river. There is a renewed interest and discussion in public access... The Know staff http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

John Cho Delights in Rom-Com Role in ABC’s ‘Selfie’

New America Media - Sun, 11/02/2014 - 00:00
John Cho can’t stop raving about how he got to ride a horse for his new TV show Selfie.“About a month ago, [creator] Emily [Kapnek] came to me and said, ‘We’re writing a storyline where you’re riding a horse. Can... Ada Tseng; photography by Jack Blizzard http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Music: Wilson Wong and Dudes' EP Release Party Is This Friday, Nov. 7

Hyphen Blog - Sat, 11/01/2014 - 01:53

Go ahead -- make out to this music. 

read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

California Takes on Academic Inequities for Black, Latino Students

New America Media - Sat, 11/01/2014 - 00:00
photo: Jason Magaña, a student at L.A.’s Jefferson High School, said he was enrolled this fall in a graphic design course he’s already taken and passed twice. An aspiring aeronautical engineer, he’s part of a suit filed by students at... Susan Ferriss http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

How Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Defines Today's 'Race Beat'

Colorlines - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:03
How Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Defines Today's 'Race Beat'

The leading writer on racism in America today is the subject of a cerebral profile in the new issue of Columbia Journalism Review. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who this year resurfaced reparations for African-Americans as a relevant topic in the mainstream, sees himself not as a writer about race but about racism and white supremacy. The interview unpacks some of how Coates came to see and appreciate that difference, which determines how he covers what journalists in the 1960s termed, 'the race beat.' Some highlights:

Eventually, [Coates] came to see black respectability--the idea that, to succeed, African-Americans must stoically prevail against the odds and be "twice as good" as white people to get the same rights--as deeply immoral. It's an idea that has permeated his work ever since: the absurdity that having a black president somehow indicates that the country has transcended race, when African-Americans get longer prison sentences than whites for committing the same crimes. For Coates, true equality means "black people in this country have the right to be as mediocre as white people," he says.

And:

[White supremacy] refers not so much to hate groups, but, as Coates defines it, a system of policies and beliefs that aims to keep African-Americans as "a peon class." To be "white" in this sense does not refer merely to skin color but to the degree that someone qualifies as "normal," and thus worthy of the same rights as all Americans. Reading Coates' work you feel that his ideas--about blacks needing to be "twice as good," about the force of history, about white supremacy--all cascade, one into another, permeating both his tweets and his cover stories, whether he is discussing the presidency or housing policy. The pool where all these ideas eventually arrive is a question: "How big-hearted can democracy be?" 

Chris Ip's profile reveals a man who's had the time and space to develop his thinking over a long period of time. It's worth the read.

Read more at CJR.

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Spike Lee: 'Post-Racial America is Bullshit'

Colorlines - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 09:18
 'Post-Racial America is Bullshit'

Spike Lee made his case against a post-racial America to Jorge Ramos at Fusion. He also really, really hates "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Watch. 

(h/t Fusion)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

La comprensión de ébola

New America Media - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 08:49
EnglishLos casos del Ébola siguen multiplicándose de manera exponencial por África occidental. Los oficiales de Naciones Unidas dicen que se necesitarán 19,000 trabajadores de sanidad allí antes del 1 de diciembre, cuando los grandes centros para el tratamiento del Ébola... Laura Kurtzman http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Angela Davis Praises Toni Morrison's Friendship and Editing

Colorlines - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 08:00
Angela Davis Praises Toni Morrison's Friendship and Editing

UC Santa Cruz's Dan White sat down separately with Angela Davis and Toni Morrison and put together one gem of an interview about their nearly five decades of friendship. Before she earned her own place in the American canon, Morrison worked as an editor at Random House for 20 years and edited a stable of books by black writers, including Davis' 1974 autobiography. The interview touches on everything from Morrison's distaste for that era's black memoirs to the "white gaze" and the importance of goodness in literature. But these thoughts from Davis on Morrison's friendship and editing stand out:

To Angela Davis: During her time at Random House, Toni Morrison edited your [autobiography], which was published in 1974. How did that initial connection come about? 

AD:  She contacted me. I wasn't so much interested in writing an autobiography. I was very young. I think I was 26 years old. Who writes an autobiography at that age? Also, I wasn't that interested in writing a book that was focused on a personal trajectory. Of course at that time the paradigm for the autobiography as far as I was concerned was the heroic individual and I certainly did not want to represent myself in that way.  But Toni Morrison  persuaded me that I could write it the way I wanted to; it could be the story not only of my life but of the movement in which I had become involved, and she was successful. 

To Angela Davis: Your autobiography is very cinematic - I've read a lot of your more academic work, but this one is constructed like a novel. In the very beginning, you're trying to get away from the FBI and there is this palpable sense of fear. The reader is right in the middle of a manhunt. I was wondering how much of that comes from the influence of your mentor, Toni Morrison.

AD: The decision to begin the story at the moment when I went underground and then would be arrested was an interesting way of drawing people into a story, the outlines of which they already knew because of course my being placed on the FBI 10 most wanted list was publicized all around the country, all around the world, so yes, there was the use of the kind of cinematic strategy of flashback and this was thanks to input from my editor, Toni Morrison. And I can also say that in learning how to write in that way for her - she did not rewrite things for me, but she asked me questions. She would say, 'what did the space look like, what was in the room, and how would you describe it?' It was quite an amazing experience for me to have her as a mentor. My experience with writing was primarily writing about philosophical issues.  I really had to learn about how to write something that would produce images in people's minds that would draw them into a story. 

Morrison goes on to offer up some hilarious anecdotes about working as Davis' handler on her book tour and setting boundaries for people. "People would come up to her, you know: 'My brother is in prison, and I was wondering could we have a cocktail party (to raise money for him),' and the thing was, (Davis) would stop and listen, and say, 'where is he?', and I would say, 'Angela, come on!'"

Read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

On That Street Harassment Video and Race

Colorlines - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 07:31

For the past couple of days I've been thinking about that video. You know the one that follows a 20-something white woman as she walks around New York City for 10 hours and receives a bunch of commentary and demands from men she doesn't know. The video is effective. It really does lay bare the amount of annoying, passive aggressive, creepy, presumptuous and pointless shit men on the street say to women who are simply going about their day. Two guys even follow the woman in the video conveying the physical danger that street harassment can lead to. In theory, I'm all for this teaching tool. But I have a couple of issues with it that I can't ignore. 

The first: About 99 percent of the men bothering the woman in the video are black and Latino.

Until today I avoided pointing that out. Frankly, I was afraid that I was allowing my feelings of race-based shame and the bitter legacy of the Scottsboro Boys to trump the discomfort and fear that this woman clearly feels walking down the street.

But then I saw Hanna Rosin's piece in Slate. She points out that white men did, in fact, harass the woman in the video. They just didn't make the cut:

The video is a collaboration between Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative. At the end they claim the woman experienced 100-plus incidents of harassment "involving people of all backgrounds." Since that obviously doesn't show up in the video, Bliss addressed it in a post. He wrote, "We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera," or was ruined by a siren or other noise. The final product, he writes, "is not a perfect representation of everything that happened." That may be true but if you find yourself editing out all the catcalling white guys, maybe you should try another take.

So as it turns out, the racial politics of this video really are as clueless as the final product suggests. And that is tiresome. Why is it so hard to understand--before a bunch of women of color make this point on the Internet--that by editing out the white guys, you're telling a dangerous lie of omission and implying that black and brown men are particularly predatory?

Today, Emily May, the founder of Hollaback!, did address the race issue:

Rob Bliss Creative donated time and labor to create this video and support our work. We are grateful for his work and the wide reach that this video has achieved but we feel the need to directly address other responses to the video. First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob's support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we're concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.

I feel her, and I acknowledge that Rob Bliss Creative, the agency that made the video, had creative control. But I am tired of race being the afterthought. I'm sick of being the second or third or 80th woman in the series, the one who has to say, "Yoo hoo, we're here! You can't do sexism without racism because the default is always a white, straight woman."

"Intersectionality" is a thing. I wish people would look it up on Wikipedia.

The second issue I have with the video is that it characterizes all of the men's behavior as the same. So "hello," a demand for gratitude, and following the woman all carry the same weight.

I get it. Street encounters have a cumulative effect. If you're like me and you've had a man throw juice on you, or call you an ugly black bitch with a flat ass, or try to push you in the street when you tell him to stop following you, or asks you at age 11 if you know how to "ride" because you're bowlegged, dark and pigeon-toed, then unsolicited hellos can be threatening.

But here's where it gets messy for me: At this age (middle) and in this place (black Brooklyn, mostly), I don't mind when a man says hello. I detest and ignore "You should smile more," "Can I go?", "Sexy walk, ma," and "Your husband is lucky." But I'm not mad at "Hey beautiful," "Have a blessed day" or "You look nice today." I'm not supposed to say that, I know. Maybe I have sexism Stockholm Syndrome and I'm suffering from silly fantasies of being asked to dance to Luther Vandross by a Don Cheadle clone at the palace ball. But this my lived experience--and that doesn't always line up with my political beliefs.

As writers including Jamilah Lemieux have amply explained, street harassment is a serious problem. Finding a universal remedy is impossible, and I commend the women and men who are doing this work. But the devil is in the details and this viral video is missing some key details. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines
Syndicate content