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
By Guest Contributor Rinku Sen originally published at ColorLines.com
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
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.)
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.
A CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS (1000-2000 words due Monday, May 17, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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?