Newsweek Takes On Feminism On Behalf of Young White Girls Everywhere

by Latoya Peterson and Thea Lim

I (Latoya) originally wanted to title this post: All The Women Are Still White, All The Blacks Are Still Men, But Some Of Us Are Tired of Being Brave and Want to Kick Someone’s Ass. But that was too long, and bad for SEO purposes. So here is the situation.

Last week, Newsweek published an in-depth piece of journalism, chronicling the uncomfortable relationship between women employees at the magazine in 1970, when a gender discrimination suit was filed (with Eleanor Holmes Norton representing the 46 women who filed) and three women employees 40 years later who discovered that they still weren’t quite equal. (The piece is titled “Are We There Yet?”) While the piece was lauded by journalists (for being self-critical) and by feminists (for taking a look at the uncomfortable picture), drama popped off when the Jezebel team pointed out the image of feminism in the Newsweek headline and photo felt a little too familiar.


The text below the image reads:

Things stay the same: This just-posted Newsweek story on “Why Young Women Need Feminism” is accompanied by photo of six women…all of them white. [Newsweek]

Predictably, drama ensued. Continue reading

What Progressives Must Learn from the ACORN Debacle

By Guest Contributor Rinku Sen originally published at

If we do our work well, we should expect similar attacks and know that long track records won’t protect us.

I’ve been expecting it for months, but I was still bummed to see the official announcement: ACORN, a decades-old community organizing powerhouse, will be closing its operations permanently as of April 1. As I wrote last year, ACORN has been the subject of a concerted attack by the right and was largely abandoned when liberal supporters, including President Obama and Democratic members of Congress, distanced themselves. But the attack on ACORN isn’t about ACORN alone. It’s an important element of a conservative strategy to discredit the Obama administration, destroy organizing capacity among progressives and quiet voices for real change. They’ve helped shut ACORN’s doors. Now, it’s up to us to make sure the onslaught stops there.

A quick recap. For many years, ACORN has been attacked by conservatives for its massive voter registration program. Accusations of voter fraud during and after the 2008 election were eventually rejected by the courts, but they drew national attention nonetheless, fueled by efforts to link the organization to Barack Obama and by an earlier ACORN embezzlement scandal. Then, conservative activist James O’Keefe–who was arrested recently for plotting to tamper with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones–released a video purporting to show ACORN staff advising a pimp and a prostitute on how to get away with tax fraud. The Brooklyn district attorney investigated that incident–in part by simply watching the unedited tape, something news organizations failed to do– and concluded that there was no unlawful activity at ACORN. But it was too late: Congress had already responded to incomplete news stories by banning ACORN from receiving government contracts, including for mortgage counseling and voter registration. A federal judge has ruled that ban unconstitutional, by the way.

I’m not ACORN apologist. The organization had some serious quality-control issues, and hasn’t always played well with others. The embezzlement could have been handled more forthrightly, for example, and in the struggle over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards stadium project, a number of New York activists charged ACORN with cutting an inadequate deal with developers. I am struck now, though, by the ease with which a 40-year-old stalwart could be taken down with a flimsy, if concerted right-wing smear campaign. Continue reading

Race, Clothes, and Perceptions of Criminality

By Anonymous, originally posted at Sociological Images

Note from Lisa, editor of Sociological Images: We are pleased to featured a Guest Post from a blogger at Sociological Confessions. Our anonymous blogger is a Sociology professor who teaches courses on race relations and does public sociology work on racial disparities in criminal justice. In this post, she poses a question based on an interaction with students who questioned her interpretation of an incident as racial.

After presenting lots of statistics about racial disparities in criminal justice, I showed my class the videos from ABC News What Would You Do? in which first White and than Black youths vandalize a car in a public parking lot. [See the videos at ABC: Part I and Part II.]

There is only one 911 call on the White boys, but ten on the Black boys. Plus, while the White boys are vandalizing, someone calls 911 to report people who are suspected of planning a robbery — Black kids asleep in a nearby car! Well, most of the class, as expected, saw this the way I did, as evidence of a racial problem. I was trying to emphasize that not arresting Whites when they commit crimes is just as important in racial disparities as arresting Blacks. Some students pointed out (correctly) that it was a demonstration, not a controlled experiment and wondered (fairly) whether the producers selected cases for their strong differences. But a few very vocally insisted that the difference was not about race at all, but that the Black kids were wearing “gang clothing.” They got somewhat offended when I said, “yeah, Black styles” and then cut off that line of argument, saying “OK we disagree on that, but I don’t want to spend the rest of the class arguing about clothing.”

Today I went back to the video and took screen shots of the kids. They are all wearing hooded sweatshirts and jeans, as I said. (One student had insisted that the White kids wore tucked in shirts! Not so.)

Continue reading

links for 2010-03-28

  • A lawsuit filed by the former police chief of the posh St. Louis suburb of Ladue claims he was pressured to pull over blacks and set ticket quotas for out-of-towners, but be lenient with the town's residents, even those who drove drunk. When he refused to go along, he was fired, Larry White said. His suit filed Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court seeks unspecified damages. It names the city, Mayor Irene Holmes and members of the city council.
  • For the illegal immigrants who came to the lawyer, the benefits were immediately apparent. The immigrants, many of whom were from Pakistan and India, were able to live out in the open, work, pay taxes and travel abroad. And of course there was the glimmering prospect of a shortcut to citizenship. The lawyer, Thomas Archer, was taking advantage of a two-year window that allowed longtime illegal immigrants — those who came to the country before 1982 and remained through 1988 — to apply to become legal residents and to live out in the open while the applications were pending. Over the course of a year and a half, Mr. Archer, who worked in Queens, submitted applications for more than 230 illegal immigrants, charging his clients $1,500 to $2,500 each. None of them were approved. And on Wednesday, Mr. Archer was convicted of visa fraud for preparing and filing those applications and, prosecutors claimed, encouraging his clients to lie.
  • A judge on Friday blocked the closing of 19 schools for poor performance, finding the city engaged in “significant violations” of the new state law governing mayoral control of city schools. The ruling, a setback to one of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature education policies, means the city will have to start over in making its case to close the schools, this time, the judge wrote, with “meaningful community involvement.”…The schools that received at least a temporary reprieve included Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School in Queens; Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx; Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn; and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan, along with smaller schools, including the Global Enterprise High School in the Bronx and the high school grades of the Choir Academy of Harlem.
  • There was a time when the sight of Sandra Schulze's blond hair in the middle of Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park would have been a shock. But last week, as the 38-year-old graphic designer played with her two-year-old son, it was more a sign of the times. Harlem has long been one of the most famed names in black American culture. The neighbourhood produced jazz greats, political giants and sports heroes. It kept a firm black foothold in the heart of Manhattan. But that is changing, and fast. Schulze, who moved to Harlem from Connecticut a week ago with her advertising executive husband, is the new face of what was once a place synonymous with either black pride or black ghetto-isation. Not that Schulze, who is German, sees it that way. She just sees a wonderful place to raise her son, with cheap rents, enormous apartments and friendly locals. "So far, it's been wonderful. It is a little like Paris, a little like Berlin. I love it," she gushed.
  • Nell Irvin Painter’s title, “The History of White People,” is a provocation in several ways: it’s monumental in sweep, and its absurd grandiosity should call to mind the fact that writing a “History of Black People” might seem perfectly reasonable to white people. But the title is literally accurate, because the book traces characterizations of the lighter-skinned people we call white today, starting with the ancient Scythians. For those who have not yet registered how much these characterizations have changed, let me assure you that sensory observation was not the basis of racial nomenclature.
  • Tens of thousands of Cuban exiles wearing white, and carrying gladioluses and flags marched for blocks along Calle Ocho with singer Gloria Estefan in support of Cuba's Damas de Blanco, Ladies in White, the peaceful dissidents who last week were attacked by government security forces in Havana.

links for 2010-03-27

  • "She says Iranians are often painted as bad guys and people watching the news get a myopic view of what Iran is like. “There’s many different layers to the country. There’s many different conversations. Why only cover the political side? Why only cover the political angle?”

    What Sarmast finally decided to do was shoot a film that would give American viewers an idea of what life is like for every day Iranians. So, in 2005 the former music industry pro began traveling to Iran with camera and crew in tow. Seventy percent of Iran’s population at the time was under 30 and Sarmast decided it was they – the youth of Iran – she would focus on in her film, Nobody’s Enemy."

    (tags: youth politics)
  • Congratulations! "Wei Chen, the senior who demanded accountability from school officials when Asian students were attacked at South Philadelphia High, has been awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations from Princeton University."
  • "What I can say though, is that in response to thoughts like “is this just a publicity stunt” is that someone who would do something like appear at a civil disturbance and chain themselves to the White House fence in their uniform, knowing full well what the UCMJ expects of people wearing uniforms, is not just doing this for attention. You do not go running into that situation without thinking that through. Dan Choi has crossed from That Officer Who Was Discharged Under DADT to That Officer Who Went to a Demonstration in His Uniform. He could possibly be brought up on charges under an Article 92."

links for 2010-03-26

  • "DMX is one of the “hardest” rappers in the business, from his husky voice to his vicious poses he embodies what it means to be a “gangster rapper.” In several of lyrics he mentions that haters can suck his dick or something to that effect. This implies a sort of dominance over the individual performing the act. He puts himself in a place of esteem in which the person performing the act must work to please him. This creates for him a sense of dominance over that person. DMX is one of many rappers who use the same line in their music eluding to potential homosexual relationships. While some argue that oral sex does not have to be deemed homosexual or pass it off as “just a lyric” perhaps it hints at something greater. Perhaps, as long as one has established themselves as a “gangster rapper” they can allow their image to override their lyrics. Or perhaps there is hidden homosexuality in even the “hardest” of men."

Conservative Havard Students Mock Ethnic and Gender Studies

by Latoya Peterson

Readers Fatima and Karla both pointed us toward an article that appeared in a student run, conservative paper run by Harvard University students. Sadly, this one doesn’t even pretend to be satirical. Patrick T. Brennan just lets the racism fly:

When the University agrees that its curriculum needs to change to address “the growing diversity of our campus” or any other imaginary concern of its students, it opens itself up to politically motivated efforts like ethnic studies. Tragically, worthwhile academic subjects like Egyptology have also been subsumed into the larger effort of emphasizing diversity and ascribing significance to the insignificant, as demonstrated by Professor Christopher P. Jones’s comments that “Egypt is a major African civilization,” and that “it is very important that Africa should be a part of what everyone thinks about the modern world.”

Egypt is a worthwhile subject not because it is an African civilization, but because it represents an incredibly sophisticated and important ancient civilization that happens to be African—let alone the fact that the Egyptians pharaohs, with the exception of 75 years of Nubian rule, were about as “African” as Ian Smith. Harvard should have an Egyptology department, or at least devote some of its resources to the study of a civilization which has had such profound influence on the world. It need not offer a course on African civilizations if there is none worthy of study. The progressive priorities of Harvard’s curriculum usually do not coincide, however, with the promotion of meaningful areas of study.

He also says:

Americans of color have undoubtedly done some things of note, but their “encounters” and “experiences” are not of paramount importance to a university education. The ethnic studies movement is motivated by an attempt to direct more attention to a topic that deserves no more attention than it already gets, and probably a good deal less. Other similarly useless departments, like Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality serve similar purposes—no one would deny that Macbeth’s wife is an interesting study in the construction of femininity, but such occasional instances of relevance do not justify an entire academic field.

The problem is that studying literature is not better than studying accounting if one is allowed, or even encouraged, to allot as much time to Latin American writers as to Latin ones. The standard work of ethics for nearly two millennia was Cicero’s De Officiis. The world has not changed enough in the past hundred years to justify its replacement with whatever pablum Michael Sandel wants to feed PBS viewers.

Friday Announcements: Imagine 2042; Ethnicity and Use of the Mental Health Act; Alston Bannerman Sabbaticals for Activists of Color

A CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS (1000-2000 words due Monday, May 17,

Imagine 2042: Visions of a Racial Order Transformed

Imagine that the year is 2042 and that surely, dramatically, and transformatively, the racial landscape of the United States has changed over the course of the century. The long-forecast end of the United States as a white-majority country in that year may or may not be an important part of the story. Race still matters, but operates now much more to unify rather than divide us. Many trace the change to the Obama era that ended a quarter-century earlier – not necessarily because of any big new federal policies implemented during that president’s time in office, but also because of other social and institutional developments that took seed or began to flower then. Some social justice oldtimers recall that they wept when Obama, our first nonwhite president, first took office. They did not know that even more meaningful developments were just ahead.

We invite you to elaborate this vision.

What would a United States another giant step or two toward racial equity and justice look like? What specific and notable markers of racial change would we see, hear, and feel? If some seeds of change indeed are in place right now, in 2010, and/or just around the corner, identify one or more of them for us. What sorts of things do we need to do to get from here to there? Who must play what role in moving us along?

Continue reading