Census to Test "Negro" Removal
Friday, January 8, 2010
Updated January 9
Students at St. Louis' Gateway Math and Science Elementary School work on a census lesson during the launch of the Census in Schools program, which plans to reach all 118,000 schools and 56 million students nationwide (Credit: U.S. Census Bureau.)
Inclusion of Out-of-Favor Term Prompts Criticism
The Census Bureau, criticized by some journalists, bloggers and others this week for including the term "Negro" among the choices for self-identification on the 2010 Census forms, announced Friday that, "A test embedded in the 2010 Census will measure the effect of removing the term 'Negro' on reports about a person's racial identity.¬†
"The results will be used to inform design changes for future surveys and the 2020 Census. In the 2000 Census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as 'Negro,' " the announcement continued.
Some bloggers and journalists this week criticized the inclusion of "Negro" among the racial choices on the census form as offensive or confusing, while some headline writers simply had fun with it. "Negro" fell victim to the push for self-definition during the black-power movement of the late 1960s. It recalls the days when "urban renewal" was nicknamed "Negro removal," though the term lives on in the names of such organizations as the National Council of Negro Women and the United Negro College Fund.
"Are You a Negro?" asked a New York magazine headline on Wednesday.
"So the census lists 'Negro' but not Octaroon? Haters," tweeted Baratunde Thurston, Web editor for the satirical publication the Onion.
The discussion also exposed a bit of ignorance.
"Census public information officer Robert Crockett tells us that the word 'Negro' has been on Census forms since at least 1950," Mark Memmott wrote on his National Public Radio blog, "The Two-Way."
"I can't believe the bureau is still using the offensive term Negro. And what is the difference between black and African-American?" blogged James E. Causey, editorial writer and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Associated Press stylebook provides one answer to the latter. Under "African-American," it says, "The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. Follow a person's preference." Not to mention that there are blacks in and from Africa, Europe and other non-American continents.
In providing an additional explanation for its decision, the Census Bureau used an argument advanced by those who earlier demanded that the news media use "black," and later "African American": that people should be called what they want to be called.
"The Census Bureau included the term 'Negro' because testing prior to Census 2000 indicated that numbers of respondents self-identified with this term. Census 2000 data showed that 56,175 respondents wrote in the term 'Negro' in response to the question on race, even though the term was included in the category label for a checkbox. This does not include the unknown numbers of respondents who may have checked the box 'Black, African Am., or Negro' because of the presence of the 'Negro' identifier.
"Research in the 2000s did not include studies of the effect of dropping 'Negro' from the list 'Black, African Am., or Negro' on responses. Such research is important to avoid unanticipated consequences of changing question wording on the outcome of a census. As stated above, this research will be conducted as part of the 2010 decennial census."
- Ta-Nehesi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Billy Dee Williams Says "Be a credit to your race..."
- Bonnie Davis, thegrio.com: The word 'Negro' on 2010 census form offends some blacks
- Richard Huff, New York Daily News: Glenn Beck: African-American 'a bogus, PC, made-up term'; 'not a race'
- Christine Sloan, WCBS-TV, New York: 'Negro' Race Choice On Census Form Sparks Outrage
- Marcus Toussaint, jackandjillpolitics.com: "The Negro Over Yonder" - A 2010 Census Officer
In Shakeup, Robin Washington Named Editor in Duluth
In a shakeup at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, Robin Washington, a veteran journalist and former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Unity: Journalists of Color, on Friday was named the company's editor.¬†
Washington was news director, second in command of the news operation, and before that, editorial page editor.
The appointment comes as a change of pace at a time when more journalists of color have been losing their jobs than being promoted to top ones, although Washington's promotion resulted from a layoff of the executive editor.
"News Tribune Publisher Ken Browall released the following statement," the paper reported on its Web site:
"'Effective today the company has restructured management within the Editorial and Circulation Departments, resulting in the elimination of two management positions at the News Tribune. Executive Editor Rob Karwath and Circulation Manager Tim McLoughlin have been laid off.
"Both of these individuals have made significant contributions to the News Tribune during their careers. These were difficult business decisions. I will miss Rob and Tim both personally and professionally.' "
"Robin Washington, who served as the News Tribune's news director, will be the company's editor, Browall said in the statement."
"Robin Washington grew up in Chicago in a family of black and Jewish civil rights activists," he begins his online biography. "Participating in sit-ins and protests when he was three years old, today he recalls those events fondly as 'family outings.'
"He received the 1996 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association as creator and executive producer of 'You Don‚Äôt Have to Ride Jim Crow!,' a national public television documentary telling the story of the first interracial Freedom Ride in 1947.
". . . He was previously a columnist for the Boston Herald, authoring the newspaper‚Äôs popular 'Roads Scholar' and 'Square Deal' features, and spent two years covering the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal. . . . He also worked on the Boston Herald sports staff.
"He was publisher and founder of an engineering journal, editor of a 500,000 circulation women‚Äôs magazine, publisher of a rural Minnesota weekly and managing editor of the Bay State Banner, New England‚Äôs largest black weekly."
Washington, 53, a former president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists, has also been NABJ's parliamentarian, a board member of Unity, and a commentator on National Public Radio. The son of a black father and a white, Jewish mother, Washington helped organize the Alliance of Black Jews in 1995. That organization has just reformed via Facebook, he told Journal-isms on Friday.
The News Tribune is a former Knight Ridder property now owned by Forum Communications Co., based in Fargo, N.D.
Nicole Beharie Returns Prize; Black Critics Group Splits
"Nicole Beharie, the gifted actress from 'American Violet,' has decided to return her award from the African American Film Critics" Association,¬† Roger Friedman reported Friday for the Hollywood Reporter's Showtime 411 blog.
In reaction to the controversy over the award, "Three founding members of the AAFCA ‚Äî Shawn Edwards of FOX-TV, Wilson Morales of Blackfilm.com/AOL Blackvoices and Mike Sargent WBAI-FM/Tor.com ‚Äî have seceded and formed a new group, the Black Film Critics Circle," Melena Ryzik reported late Friday for the New York Times.
Friedman wrote of Beharie, "She‚Äôs sent me this email via her publicist: 'I‚Äôve been informed that there was a disagreement over the AAFCA Best Actress Award. Because of the discrepancy, I am returning the award. Gabourey Sidibe is an extraordinary actress in a film that I absolutely loved. I wish her all the best.'¬†
"You may recall that on December 22, 2009 I wrote about the controversy within the AAFCA. Members of the group were furious because Gabourey Sidibe, of 'Precious,' actually finished first on the majority of the ballots. For reasons that are unclear, the group‚Äôs chief, Gil Robertson, instead announced Beharie as the winner."
As reported on Dec. 28, Robertson denied allegations that Sidibe was denied the group's "Best Actress" award, attributing the charges to disgruntled former members.
Robertson told Journal-isms on Saturday that he had not received notification that Beharie had returned the award, wished the new group well, and said:
"AAFCA stands behind its collective decision to honor Ms. Beharie with their highest acting honors for her performance in 'American Violet.' AAFCA regrets that the actions and accusations of four of its former members [have] tainted the joy of this recognition.
"Mr. Tennenbaum, Ms. Beharie‚Äôs manager, threatened to release a statement 'giving back' the award if the organization didn‚Äôt show him the ballots. AAFCA balloting has been secret since 2003, and will continue to be so.
"We had hoped that Ms. Beharie [would keep] her 2009 AAFCA Award for Best Actress with full confidence that it was given by a majority of the org‚Äôs membership for her riveting performance."
Morales told the Times, "There was nothing gray, there was no close vote."¬† Asked why Robertson might have changed the vote, Morales said: "We never got an explanation, we don‚Äôt know."
The Times story added, "The new group, which includes five other former AAFCA members from around the country, will officially make its debut on Feb. 1 for Black History Month, and will name its 10 best films each year, in addition to other prizes." [Added Jan. 9]
NABJ to Consider Leaving Accreditation Council
The National Association of Black Journalists is considering pulling out of the major accrediting council for college journalism, a decision that would leave none of the journalist of color organizations on the body.
The Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and NABJ sat on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication as one way to ensure that diversity remains a priority in college journalism programs, both in staffing and curriculum.
The groups fought to be included, but finances have become an issue.
"We are taking a second look at any expense that is not an essential service," Kathy Times, president of NABJ, told Journal-isms on Friday. "The board will be approving the NABJ budget this month and will decide if it wants to continue paying $4,000 for the ACEJMC membership."
When AAJA withdrew in 2006, the dues were $5,000. AAJA cited the cost, and the then-accreditation council president, Saundra Keyes, flew to the association's annual meeting in Hawaii to urge it to stay. NAHJ left in 2007 "in protest over their failure to vigorously apply the standards that would have been required for significant diversity gains in the 10 years of our membership." The same year, NLGJA decided to leave, but reversed itself.
Jackie Jones, NABJ's longtime representative on the council, opposes withdrawal.
"I know that the Accrediting Council dues are a big nut for any organization, especially a nonprofit service organization like NABJ. That said, I believe it is important that NABJ is at the table," she said. "We are the only minority industry association still there and besides bragging rights, I honestly believe we've been a valuable presence.
"ACEJMC is committed to diversity and I don't expect that to change, but NABJ's mission is not only to see that black professionals are in the industry and are valued and sought out as major contributors, but also to see that black students are recruited, retained, trained and graduated into the industry and that the message of diversity is clearly represented throughout programs of journalism and mass comm, from students and faculty to curriculum and ‚Äî whether directly or by influence ‚Äî in student media."
Referring to historically black colleges and universities, she said, "The accreditation process opens a window through which NABJ can see how to assist HBCU programs seeking accreditation, if necessary, and to assist majority programs that are struggling to meet the diversity standard. It's a great way to partner with the academic community and while I understand NABJ's financial picture, I think it is important that we remain on the Council."
Other journalists and educators of color are still on the panel, however, including a representative of the Black College Communication Association. Peter Bhatia of the Oregonian in Portland, who of South Asian descent, is president of the council and Jannette Dates, dean of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University, who is African American, is vice president.
From left: David Boardman, Thom Fladung, Susan Goldberg and Bernard Lunzer
ASNE Fixes Diversity Panel That Lacked Diversity
"Diversity and downsizing: Can the two coexist?" asked the promotion for a Jan. 26 panel to be conducted by the American Society of News Editors.
Pictured were three panelists ‚Äî David Boardman, Thom Fladung, Bernard Lunzer ‚Äî and its moderator, Susan Goldberg.
A member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists wrote Journal-isms asking, "Is it me or I am missing something. What‚Äôs wrong with this picture?"
All the panelists were white, as they are in many such panels assembled throughout the industry. But this time, when called to the sponsor's attention, the response was different.
"You're right," responded Richard Karpel, ASNE's executive director. "We made a mistake by not including a person of color. We're going to rectify that. Debra Adams Simmons, managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and former editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, will join the panel. We will also seek a representative from AAJA," the Asian American Journalists Association. "Thanks for bringing it to our attention." Adams Simmons is African American.
NAJA Leader Blasts Michael Steele's "Injun" Remark
"The head of the Native American Journalists Association is calling on Michael Steele to apologize for his 'scurrilous tongue' in the wake of a derogatory statement the RNC Chairman made about Native Americans," as Sam Stein wrote Friday for the Huffington Post.
"Ronnie Washines, who heads the association, accused Steele of resorting to 'uneducated archaic racist remarks' when he used the phrase 'Honest Injun' on Sean Hannity's radio show to underscore his support for the RNC's document of principles.
‚ÄúI am thoroughly outraged that the leader of the National Republican Party would use such repulsive language on national television," Washines said.
"Those of us in journalism have tirelessly worked to ensure that political leaders, newsrooms and the public be respectful to all cultures when speaking [publicly]. Michael Steele‚Äôs scurrilous tongue does no service to his group and only undermines the positive work of those who sincerely seek to respect one another in all of our working relationships. I urge Michael Steele to carefully word a sincere apology to the Native American community, which could help stop such uneducated archaic racist remarks from being made in the future. We here at NAJA are available to assist him and his organization with obtaining an accurate understanding of Native America.‚Äù¬†
Stein noted, "Washines's rebuke comes days after similar push back was offered by Rep. Dale Kildee, (D-Mich), who co-chairs the Congressional Native American Caucus."
- Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune: Michael Steele's 'honest injun' comment sparks backlash
Columnists Unanimous on Gilbert Arenas' Gunplay
"It's difficult to imagine any more laughter coming from Gilbert Arenas on this matter of having guns in the locker room," the hometown columnist, Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post, wrote Thursday about the Washington Wizards' star player.
"It's safe to assume there will be no more pulling a fake trigger for the cameras, no more Twittering, no more seeing this gun episode as another prank. Even Arenas knows the laughter stops when NBA Commissioner David Stern says you are suspended indefinitely. Wednesday, funny turned into career threatening."
J. Freedom du Lac, a Post colleague, reported Friday, "In Washington, the story of Gilbert Arenas and his guns is yet another in a long line of sports embarrassments for a town that has a tough time finding winners. But in the rest of the country, the news that the Washington Wizards' star guard displayed his guns in the team locker room ‚Äî and the utter lack of seriousness with which Arenas and his teammates handled the incident in the ensuing days ‚Äî is being perceived as a morality play about thuggish behavior in the NBA, race and the age-old debate over athletes' responsibility to young fans."
- Jemele Hill, ESPN: NBA should suspend Arenas, Crittenton
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Dunce cap a perfect fit for this Wizard's Arenas
- Terence Moore, AOL Fanhouse: Stern Bans Arenas to Help Save NBA
- Monte Poole, Oakland (Calif.) Tribune: Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, now suspended by NBA, shouldn't be joking about gun incident
- William C. Rhoden, New York Times: The Loose Cannon in the Locker Room for the N.B.A.
- Barry Saunders, Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer: For once, Al Sharpton aces the race card
- Stephen A. Smith, FoxSports.com: Black community suffers most from Arenas' stupidity
- Deron Snyder, theRoot.com: Why the World‚Äôs Up In Arms Over Gilbert Arenas
- David Squires, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.: Stern action fits the crime in NBA gun play
- Michael Wilbon, Washington Post: Al Sharpton speaks wisely on Gilbert Arenas
"Much of Freelancing Has Become All Too Free"
"Today's reality is that much of freelancing has become all too free," media writer James Rainey wrote Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times.
"Seasoned professionals have seen their income drop by 50% or more as publishers fill the Web's seemingly limitless news hole, drawing on the ever-expanding rank of under-employed writers.
"The crumbling pay scales have not only hollowed out household budgets but accompanied a pervasive shift in journalism toward shorter stories, frothier subjects and an increasing emphasis on fast, rather than thorough.
" 'There are a lot of stories that are being missed, not just at legacy newspapers and TV stations but in the freelance world,' said Nick Martin, 27, laid off a year ago by the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., and now a freelancer. 'A lot of publications used to be able to pay freelancers to do really solid investigations. There's just not much of that going on anymore.'
"Another writer, based in Los Angeles, said she has been troubled by the lighter fare that many websites prefer to drive up traffic. A new take on any youth obsessions ('Put "Twilight" in the headline, get paid') has much more chance of winning editorial approval than more complex or substantive material.
"The rank of stories unwritten ‚Äî like most errors of omission ‚Äî is hard to conceive. Even those inside journalism can only guess at what stories they might have paid for, if they had more money."
With 'You Send Me' in 1957, Sam Cooke became the first African American to reach No. 1 on both the R&B and pop charts. (Video)
Sam Cooke Documentary Debuts Monday on PBS
After Sam Cooke was shot to death at age 32 in 1964, his record company told listeners that "Sam Cooke lives on in his songs." Every time "A Change Is Gonna Come," "You Send Me" or "Chain Gang" airs, it proves the company right.
On Monday, PBS' "American Masters" series debuts "Sam Cooke: Crossing Over," an hour documentary on a gospel-turned-pop singer who, the documentary says, was the first black crossover singer, the first African American to have his own record label, the first black man to go to RCA Records with a $1 million contract, and a man who, in 1963, had stopped straightening his hair and refused to appear at segregated concerts.
Made over 10 years, the film features Danny Glover, Muhammad Ali, Herb Alpert, James Brown, Dick Clark, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Wexler, Billy Preston and others, some of whom died before the film could be completed. Check local listings for airtimes.
- John Paton, 52, chairman, chief executive and president of impreMedia LLC, the top news and information company serving Hispanics that he co-founded in 2003, was named chief executive officer Thursday of the Journal Register Company, owner of The Oakland (Mich.) Press and other properties, the Oakland Press reported. "In 2009, Editor & Publisher magazine recognized Paton for transforming what was a legacy news media organization into a modern multi-platform company by naming him 'Publisher of the Year.' He was also named a 'Media All-Star' by AdWeek magazine's Marketing y Medios."
- Foon Rhee, the Boston Globe‚Äôs deputy national political editor, was due to leave the paper Friday for the Sacramento (Calif.), Bee, where he is to be associate editor, serving on the editorial board and writing editorials, media writer Dan Kennedy reported on his Web site. Kennedy quoted a memo from Washington bureau chief Chris Rowland, who said, "There is no positive way to spin this, so I won‚Äôt try: it is wretched news for the Washington Bureau, and he will be deeply missed." Rhee, a native of South Korea, worked at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. "At The Globe, most recently he covered national politics, the White House and Congress," the Sacramento Business Journal said.
- WCBS-TV reporter Pablo Guzman last week recalled the time the late Percy Sutton and R. Peter Straus, then the head of WMCA Radio, put up the bail after Guzman and Felipe Luciano were arrested in 1970. Guzman and Luciano were then members of the Young Lords, an activist Puerto Rican community group. Sutton, New York power broker and co-founder of Inner-City Broadcasting, died Dec. 26 at age 89.
- Sewell Chan, New York Times metro reporter and bureau chief of the City Room blog, is heading for the Times' Washington bureau. He's being replaced by Andy Newman. Metro editors Joe Sexton and Wendell Jamieson called Chan a "genius, a reporter who took a mighty dare with a new genre, inhabited it, and remade it. City Room, sometimes called a blog, was and is, of course, way more than that. And Sewell, its creator and conscience and beating heart from Day 1, was no less than all of that." Chan told Journal-isms he would be part of the economic policy team.
- Shiho Fukada, a freelance photojournalist who has been working in China since 2008, when an earthquake struck Sichuan Province, won an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship to study "Japan‚Äôs Disposable Workers." "The Times nominated her poignant photographs for a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news," Miki Meek reported Monday in the New York Times.
- Sportswriter A.J. Perez, one of 26 laid off in the newsroom at USA Today in December, has landed at AOL Fanhouse. "I'm a national reporter, a new general assignment position created by Fanhouse. I'll be covering everything from 'roids to hockey," Perez told Journal-isms on Friday.
- A memorial service for Deborah Howell, the former Washington Post ombudsman and Minnesota editor who died Jan. 1 in a New Zealand accident, is scheduled for Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown St Paul, Minn., the church confirmed. A funeral takes place Jan. 15 in Washington. The Native American Journalists Association joined the tributes, saying Thursday, "she helped provide funding to aspiring Native Journalists through the Newhouse Foundation Scholarship Program. Howell assisted NAJA with more than $350,000 dollars in scholarships that were awarded to Native American journalism students throughout the country."
- Last week, "the staff of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger invited a group of African American journalists who work for African American-owned publications to his campaign headquarters ‚Äî but he didn't show up," Lisa Donovan reported Thursday in the Chicago Sun-Times. Glenn Reedus, "one of the veteran journalists in attendance said they listened as campaigners talked about how the mainstream media hadn't given Stroger a fair shake." "Do I talk to other groups, outside of black journalists and not invite you?" Stroger said later, according to Donovan. "Yes. Do I talk to the Pakistani Times? Yes. Do I talk to Hoy without you? Yes. I talk to all kinds of different groups without you."
- "If it hadn't been for vaqueros, John Wayne wouldn't have had a place to hang his famous hat," the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman editorial page, led by Arnold Garcia, wrote on Thursday. "Texas' first cowboys and the imagery they evoke to this day owe their existence to Mexican vaqueros who showed Anglos how to rope and ride and injected words into the Southwest's version of English." The editorial applauded a unanimous vote by the State Preservation Board "to acknowledge the state's Hispanic roots with a 33-foot-long bronze monument to be placed on the South lawn of the Capitol. The Tejano monument features a vaquero and longhorns. It also depicts a family and a Spanish explorer."
- "One year after the inauguration of the first African-American President, MSNBC will present 'Obama‚Äôs America: 2010 and Beyond,' Jan. 18, 10 p.m.-12 a.m. ET, an extended discussion surrounding race and post-racial identity in America. Moderated by 'Hardball‚Äôs' Chris Matthews and featuring radio host Tom Joyner, live from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, this two-hour special event on Martin Luther King Day will explore some of the most pressing and provocative issues connected to race and race relations in the U.S.," NBC announced on Thursday.
- "Mervin R. Aubespin has been named the 2010 recipient of Louisville's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award," Sheldon S. Shafer reported Thursday in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal. Aubespin, 72, is a former editor and reporter for the Courier-Journal and a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Mayor Jerry Abramson is to present the award, which is given by the city, on Jan. 17.
- "Seeking to bolster its daytime lineup, CNN is making another anchor switch for the new year," Matea Gold reported Friday in the Los Angeles Times."The network is giving chief business correspondent Ali Velshi his own daily show from 10 a.m. to noon, a time slot currently anchored by Kyra Phillips, who will take over the 6 to 8 a.m. slot. Heidi Collins, who had been anchoring 'CNN Newsroom' during that time, is leaving the network after nearly eight years." Velshi, born in Kenya and raised in Toronto, has been active in the South Asian Journalists Association.
- "Maurice Hope-Thompson, familiar to a generation of listeners for his public affairs program on KTSU, was found dead at his home Monday. He was 68," Jeannie Kever reported Wednesday for the Houston Chronicle. "He had multiple myeloma but had been doing well, said his daughter, Maria Birdsong. Hope-Thompson, a native of Jamaica, worked as a newspaper reporter in upstate New York before earning a law degree from Boston College in 1980. But friends say he found his true calling in Houston, where he taught at Texas Southern University and hosted a long-running program at the school's radio station."
- Erin Aubry Kaplan, a Los Angeles writer who was born and raised in South Central, argued Thursday in the Los Angeles Times against what she calls the latest "ghettotainment": L.A. Gang Tours. "At the very least, the tour's marketing sends mixed messages and raises the question of whether it's even possible at this point to distinguish between showcasing the 'hood for altruistic reasons and showcasing it for titillation," she wrote. Founder Alfred Lomas "says the tour is not geared to outsiders. Why, then, run a tour at all, especially one that charges $65 a ticket?"
- "Audrey Smaltz, Ebony Fashion Fair‚Äôs legendary commentator, reminisces about hitting the road with the doyenne of black fashion" reads theRoot.com's blurb Wednesday for a tribute to Eunice W. Johnson, the founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair who died Sunday at age 93.
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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