Columns by Dori J. Maynard

How Sherman 'Rant' Could Help Change Coverage of Black Men

On a friend’s Facebook page, a commenter contended that the Richard Sherman controversy was just a sideshow. More important, she wrote, we should be focusing on the push to roll back civil rights.

Yes, a football player talking trash after a game should be a sideshow. And, according to Deadspin, when white athletes such as Brett Favre act up, it is exactly that.

In Sherman’s case, though, an argument can be made that it is the main show, with very familiar themes.


Lessons From an Optimistic Dad Guide Institute’s Newest Appeal

Aug. 17 marked the 20th anniversary of the death of my father, Robert C. Maynard, former owner and publisher of the Oakland Tribune.

As the date neared, I began reflecting on his life and legacy, rereading his letters, speeches, columns and journals. I had not forgotten the power of my father’s writing. I was, however, unprepared for how timely his words would be today, some of them 40 years after they were written.

That’s why we decided to share them.

Some of you who visit the Maynard Institute site and Facebook page may have noticed that we recently launched a daily feature posting photos and quotes reflecting my father’s myriad interests and passions for the media, diversity, the craft of writing and family. We found so much material that we’ll continue this throughout the year. Although we have much material, we would always like more. So if you have letters or speeches to share, please send them to us at


Media need not look far to explain reasons for racial angst

This column was originally published by The Oakland Tribune as a guest commentary on August 3, 2013.

Mere hours after tweeting about how jarring it felt to watch all-white talking heads on "CBS This Morning" discuss President Barack Obama and race, I saw the July 29 Time magazine cover with the words "After Trayvon" emblazoned across an empty hoodie.

"This, this is the problem," I thought.

We in the news media have spent much of the past few weeks examining every nook and cranny in this country, looking for clues about how we have come to this point of racial angst.

The only place we have yet to look is inward.

And it's time.


It's Time to Recognize All Dads on Father's Day

Dear Sheryl Sandberg,

You advise women to lean in and speak up. I’m taking your advice.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was in the Father’s Day feature on which your Lean In Foundation collaborated with Time magazine. 



Recalling Dad's Encounter With Intensive Government Monitoring

At age 55 and dull, part of me buys the case that it's better to lose a little bit of privacy for a whole lot of security.

So the government wants to monitor me? Okay. I have nothing to hide and you, poor investigator, run the risk of dying of boredom.

But that's today when I have nothing to hide and little to fear.

In the tumultuous 1950s and 1960s, the story might have been different, something my dad reminded me of as he lay dying of cancer in the summer of 1993.


Coverage of Oakland violence does not offer proper context

This column was originally published on The Oakland Tribune. - MIJE Staff

To the outside observer, my neighbor Sasha probably looks like a homeless drug addict.

On the surface, that's true. He's the first to admit it.

For residents on our block, Sasha is also the one who takes out our garbage each week, rakes leaves, trims plants, cleans litter off the sidewalk and brings news of neighborhood goings-on.

In short, skimming the surface with Sasha means missing his essence.


It's Time for Ordinary People To Lead Discussion on Guns

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My first job out of college was in Bakersfield, Calif., far from the Northeast where I was born and raised.

There were a multitude of differences that required not only an adjustment but also a complete recalibration of what I expected from the world. Bakersfield was far from a culture of Sunday brunches, The New York Times and Woody Allen-loving moviegoers. In those early 1980s, New Yorkers were still unabashed Allen fans.

By far the biggest difference was the everyday role that guns played in the lives of many friends and colleagues.


What Moves You - Images of Voice and Hope Summit: Mind Full Media 2012

At the Image of Voice and Hope World Media Summit—Mind Full Media 2012—I was invited to be part of the panel “What Moves You” and asked to talk about the mythology the media is creating around communities of color.

Here is the presentation I delivered September 28, 2012: 


Trayvon Martin and the Media Depiction of African American Males

“He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male.”

 — George Zimmerman to a 911 operator shortly before he fatally shot Trayvon Martin

When people ask why I do the work I do, sometimes I tell the truth — because I don’t want my brothers shot.


"Black Woman Redefined" Author Sophia A. Nelson Talks About Media Images Today

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yesterday a Summer's Eve ad was the talk of social media networks. Author and media commentator Sophia A. Nelson discusses the ad, black women's images in the media and why she was compelled to write the recently released "Black Woman Redefined".