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Will High Court Matter on Affirmative Action?

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Practice Has Become an American Value, Writer Says

Obama, Romney Seek to Rein in Crowley in Debate

After Trayvon Killing, Orlando Media Hold Race Forum

New Brides Editor Sees 5 Staffers Let Go

Sheila Johnson Calls BET a "Squandered" Voice

Media Called Out for Superficial Cuba Coverage

Kathy Williams Named News Director in Jacksonville

Short Takes

Melissa Harris-Perry challenges Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' views on affirmative action over the weekend on her MSNBC show. (Video)

Practice Has Become an American Value, Writer Says

Just before the Unity '12 convention in August, Emil Guillermo, a Filipino-American journalist and blogger, wrote, ". . . Considering the Supreme Court in October will take up the biggest threat to affirmative action in years, I'm surprised I'm hearing little discussion about that issue in the pre-convention buzz."

". . . This time around, anti-affirmative action forces are using Asian-Americans as a wedge to end the policy. Even without real advocacy on the issue, more stories about this would surely help inform the public prior to the Supreme Court argument on October 10," Guillermo wrote.

It took a few months, but the discussion of affirmative action is finally taking place. The Supreme Court last week heard arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which white student Abigail Fisher says she was denied undergraduate admission to the university in 2008 because of her race.

Among the more provocative assertions in the aftermath is that no matter how the Supreme Court rules, affirmative action will continue.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote Monday in his blog for the Atlantic, ". . . The point here is not that there will be zero damage, but that affirmative action, at this point in American history, is not so much a single policy but a broad American value. This is, again, one of the great triumphs of the black freedom struggle. . . ."

Coates was commenting on a Slate piece Friday by Richard Thompson Ford, who wrote, ". . . A sweeping repudiation of affirmative action would forbid universities from considering race, but it would not require them to look only at objective criteria like grades and test scores. They would remain free to consider a host of qualitative factors, such as social disadvantage, unusual life experiences, family wealth, experience with prejudice, neighborhood, etc.

"And the rub is that a lot of these are racially correlated, and some may be hard to disentangle from race itself. . . ."

That could be why, seven years after Washington state passed the anti-affirmative action ballot measure I-200 in November 1998, threatening to disrupt Unity '99, David Sherman, director of student services for the University of Washington's Department of Communication, told Journal-isms that the initiative never affected the journalism program.

"We're committed to having a diverse population and we sort of acted accordingly," Sherman said then. "It didn't affect us and we made sure that it didn't."

Although the Supreme Court case involves college admissions, many journalists of color can relate to the case through their experiences in the workplace.

Jarvis DeBerry, editorial writer and columnist at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, wrote Friday,Jarvis DeBerry ". . . The Times-Picayune hired me as a full-time reporter in the summer of 1997. Not everybody applauded.

"One of the other interns here who had started with me that summer processed my good fortune as his — and his people's — tough luck. 'What's a white guy got to do to get hired?' he asked.

"You'd think from his question that this newspaper was overrun with black folks. Trust me: It was not. Beyond that, to the best of my knowledge, my fellow intern hadn't even inquired about a position. I was hungry. No way I wanted to return to Holly Springs, Miss., with an expensive college degree and no job.

"During one of my three interviews with editors here, I asked that he take a chance on me. 'I know I've got more potential than experience,' I said.

"So when I heard of the other intern wondering what he could have done for a job, my first thought was, 'I don't know. Ask?' He seemed to think that a job would be bestowed upon him. I didn't have the luxury of thinking that way.

". . . During oral arguments, however, Fisher's attorney took the position that his client need not prove she'd have been admitted if the policy hadn't existed. Instead, that attorney argued, 'the denial of her right to equal treatment is a constitutional injury in and of itself.' "

As columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. of the Washington Post News Media Services wrote of Fisher's argument, "That's loony. But, lucky for Fisher, in America, there is a constituency for looniness."

Ford suggested in his Slate essay not only that affirmative action would continue even if the Supreme Court ruled for Fisher, but that many whites' resentment would remain as well.

"So even if the Supreme Court kills affirmative action, the rancor and frustration surrounding it will live on, in the shape of a restless poltergeist," Ford wrote.

"Some people will continue to complain about affirmative action as long as there is a single black or Latino student in any selective university without perfect grades and test scores. This is true in California, where some applicants still complain that UC-Berkeley and UCLA are secretly considering race — despite the statewide ban on affirmative action — because the number of minority admits has risen slightly in recent years. As in employment, what looks like a nuanced professional judgment to one person looks like a smoke screen for discrimination to another."

Obama, Romney Seek to Rein in Crowley in Debate

"Something the presidential candidates can agree on: they want their next debate moderator to be more Jim Lehrer than Martha Raddatz," Jordan Zakarin reported Monday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"According to Time's Mark Halperin, both the Obama and Romney campaigns have reached out to the Committee on Presidential Debates in the wake of CNN's Candy Crowley's promise to be actively involved in the discourse of Tuesday night's debate.

"The first woman chosen to be a presidential debate moderator in 20 years — Raddatz officiated and facilitated last week's vice presidential quip-off — Crowley has indicated on multiple occasions that she will use the questions posed by pre-screened undecided voters during the town hall-style debate as a launching point. That, however, would go against the spirit of the agreement to which both candidates previously agreed.

Candy Crowley, left, and Carole Simpson" . . . The agreement — on to which Crowley has not and is not required to sign — states that 'In managing the two-minute comment periods, the moderator will not rephrase the question or open a new topic … The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.' "

Crowley said she was not caving. "Appearing on 'The Situation Room' on Monday, Crowley made clear to Wolf Blitzer that follow-ups would be happening, whether the campaigns or the CPD liked it or not," Jack Mirkinson reported for the Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, "The last woman to moderate a Presidential debate, Carole Simpson, appeared on MSNBC today to talk about the uproar over the campaigns complaining about CNN's Candy Crowley," Alex Weprin reported Monday for TVNewser.

"Simpson, who moderated the debate [among] Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot in 1992, did not hold back.

" 'I was very upset that women were reduced to the Vice Presidential debate and to the town hall format, which does not give a woman the chance to ask the questions. The public, the voters that are going to be there tomorrow night asking questions have very basic questions about their neighborhoods and crime and their schools and so on and I'm sure Candy might like to ask, if it doesn't come up, more questions about reproductive rights for women. I was going crazy the other night when Martha [Raddatz] was an hour and 15 minutes into the debate and there were no questions about women’s reproductive rights being perhaps set back. ' "

Darryl E. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel, right, leads a panel of civic-minded residents of Sanford, Fla., in a discussion of race relations on Oct. 2. Co-moderated by Valerie Boey of WOFL-TV, the forum accompanied a Sentinel series prompted by February's fatal Trayvon Martin shooting. Boey is a leader in the Asian American Journalists Association's Florida chapter. (Video)

After Trayvon Killing, Orlando Media Hold Race Forum

"Earlier this month, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church flung open its doors to the masses," columnist Darryl E. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel wrote Friday.

"Seekers didn't come for Bible study or a spiritual booster shot.

"No, the 200 souls who filled the Sanford sanctuary came for something else: a come-to-Jesus meeting on the devilish problem of race.

"Hosted by the Orlando Sentinel and our news partner, Fox 35, the 'Florida Forward' forum — co-moderated by your friendly neighborhood columnist — was an outgrowth of our occasional series, 'In the Shadow of Race.' (The next installment of the series — sparked by the Trayvon Martin shooting — publishes tomorrow.)

"In a lively 90 minutes, the forum (which can be viewed on, featuring panelists who'd appeared in the series, explored the challenge of overcoming the racism that bubbled in America's primordial ooze and how to clear hurdles that continue to retard maturing race relations.

"Did we resolve the problem of the colorline — something W.E.B. Du Bois in 1903 declared the 'problem of the Twentieth Century' (yet still gives us fits a century later)?

"About as much as did a certain beer summit.

". . . Blacks and whites still see race through different glasses."

New Brides Editor Sees 5 Staffers Let Go

Less than a month after Keija Minor was named the editor-in-chief of Brides magazine, making her the first person of color to ever hold Keija Minorthe title at a Condé Nast Publications magazine, ". . . Brides let go about five staffers on the editorial side, though some have been asked to work part time," Erik Maza wrote Friday for Women's Wear Daily.

"Some have not been informed because they were attending bridal shows taking place this week," Maza continued. "Six employees were dismissed in business."

The Brides layoffs were among roughly 60 companywide, Maza wrote, citing "several sources."

The layoffs began Wednesday morning and continued through Thursday. Chief Executive Officer Charles Townsend sent an internal memo attributing the layoffs to "the challenges of the U.S. economy," Maza said.

Sheila Johnson Calls BET a "Squandered" Voice

Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, said over the weekend that the network she leftSheila Johnson behind "reinforces negative stereotypes of young people, African Americans in particular" Brittney M. Walker wrote Monday for

Johnson, a strategic adviser to Huffington Post, spoke at the "Conversations and Encounters" program at the Carmel Art and Film Festival in Monterey County, Calif., this weekend.

". . . 'I think we squandered a really important cable network, when it really could have been the voice of Black America. We're losing our voice as a race as a result,' she ranted. 'I'm really worried about what our young people are watching. There are so many young people who are using the television as a babysitter. We have parents who are not being parents and not monitoring what their children are watching.' "

Media Called Out for Superficial Cuba Coverage

"Does Cuba really matter?" Brian E. Crowley asked Friday in Columbia Journalism Review.

"If asked that question by a reporter, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would likely reply: Yes, absolutely.

"Unfortunately, the question of whether Cuba matters — and how, and to whom — is rarely explored in the media, even as Cuba's role in shaping politics in this key swing state is taken for granted.

". . . South Florida reporters do tend to look much deeper, and they uncover some stories that national reporters might follow to get past well-worn clichés. In a fascinating article, The Miami Herald's Juan O. Tamayo wrote in September about a new wave of Cuban immigrants moving to Tampa to get away from Miami, the historic center of the Cuban-American population.

". . . Why Tampa? To avoid Miami's anti-Castro cauldron, analysts say. But also because the defectors are less likely to be recognized on the streets and because Miami has many knowledgeable FBI agents — and too many Castro spies."

Crowley quotes Anya Laudau French, editor of the Havana Note blog and director of the New America Foundation's U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative:

". . . President Bush was willing to separate families, while President Obama seems oblivious to the historic changes in Cuba underway today, both because real events and impacts on the island aren't the point. Domestic political advantage is."

Kathy Williams, left, with Executive Producer Anne Schindler. Williams was named

Kathy Williams Named News Director in Jacksonville

"After serving since July as Interim News Director at First Coast News WTLV/WJXX, Kathy Williams was named News Director for the station on Friday, the Jacksonville, Fla., station announced.

". . . The Emmy-award winning Williams has experience leading television newsrooms in major markets. She began her career as a reporter, producer and anchor in Lubbock, Texas. From there, she was an anchor in Birmingham, Ala., and then an Executive Producer and Assistant News Director in Chicago (WGN, then WBBM).

"This role led to her first News Director assignment in Cleveland at WJW-TV. Williams then became the News Director at WKYC in Cleveland, a Gannett station. After that, she served as VP/News Director at KRIV-TV in Houston.

" 'I am thrilled to rejoin Gannett in this important role and look forward to serving the Jacksonville television audience with the highest quality journalism we can produce,' Williams said. . . ."

Short Takes

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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 provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. 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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Affirmative Action: American Ideals

For centuries in our nation white skin and white identity have been standard for privilege, preference and entiltlement. Many groups including the Irish, Jews, Arabs and others have purchased whiteness as the pass into the world of preference but now seek to distance themselves from Affirmative Action.

Affirmative Action has been at best a passive model of seeking opportunity and inclusion for people of color in particular Black Americans. Affirmative Action has been in around for a few decades unlike white privilege, which has a continuing shelf life of centuries in America.

It is tragic to observe so many people engaged in deflection and passive advocacy for Affirmative Action. America deserves the bounty of inclusion and the rewards of diversity. Race preferences are the legacy of white privilege in America.

Political disinformation which equates equal opportunity as a race based preference is evil. False concepts like reverse discrimnation, forced outcomes are toxic excuses by those who resent competition and inclusion. Affirmative Action is a organic aspect of our American Ideals.

Affirmative action

The time has come for affirmative-action to stop. White people in this country have been blamed for all evils against black people. The current white population was not even around during the Civil War or prior. Slavery has been around for thousands of years, here, in Europe, and all over the world for ages. And, slavery has not been confined to the black population. People of all races have been condemned to slavery throughout history. I want to know where are the prominent black politicians, successful millionaire businessmen/women, entertainers, doctors, prominent people are? I don't see them coming back to help their own people. Especially here in Chicago. I see poor black men and women doing their best to help their communitites with the few resources they have at their disposable, along with white people. Who are the major contributors to the MLK memorial in Washington? White corporations and white people. Who helped end slavery? White people. It has been over 60 years since affirmative action has been in place. How long do Americans who work hard and obey the rules have to step aside and allow some people to get ahead of the line based on the color of their skin. Ridiculous. And the best evidence against affirmative action? The very people who worked hard and made it. I know some of those people and they did not take advantage of affirmative action. The difficult careers they chose did not allow for it. Their hard work ethic despite having to endure and love families that were crackheads, gang bangers, and criminals. The hostile environment they grew up in afforded them very little encouragement and support. Their hope came from diverse community groups. When a black community re-elects a black politician who doesn't show up for his job and is under indightment and may have even been shown to have done wrongdoing is elected because he is black, how can one respect the choice? Black people can be racists themselves, against Whites, Latinos, and Asians. I know this from personal experience. Why is that ok? It's not. Just go to a city council meeting in Detroit and see how they refuse to hire white contractors because they are white but are the only people w/experience to do a city job ( even though it means a thousand or more jobs for their residents ). I think the government is on the verge of taking over Detroit, or maybe it already has on the quiet. Affirmative-action needs to go. It's not fair to other people. It's been around long enough to have helped a couple of generations or more to get a hand-up. And just remember, Pres. Barack Obama was raised by his white mother and his white grandparents. His black father left and abandoned that family. What does that tell you ? And in spite of all of that he was educated. He has had his issues, but he rose to the highest office of the land. He also has a beautiful wife who had an extraordinary family, including a father who went to work every day in pain to make sure his family was okay. That man was a good incredible man. And he and his wife raised wonderful children. Michelle Obama is from a black family with pride and the hard work ethic and look where it got her. If she took advantage of affirmative-action, it was well deserved. She it and her children will not have to use affirmative-action to get into any school or make any career they choose to be successful. They now have the tools to be successful. How many generations does it take for affirmative-action to be used like that? It should've already been done. It is not an American value. It was an American necessity that has run its course and had its time.

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