links for 2010-06-30

  • "But in my mind equally disturbing are the series of 'alleged' incidents involving her adult sons. Between them they have been accused of assault and of having some questionable racial attitudes, to put it mildly…

    "While I was initially hesitant to write about them at all, since yes, I know they are not the ones running for office, I thought about it and wondered why I shouldn’t. Don’t they represent one of Whitman’s most significant contributions to the world, as does the child of any person? Furthermore, if Whitman has been accused of having temperament issues in the workplace and her children are accused of having temperament issues as well, doesn’t that raise questions about her leadership skills at work and home?"

  • "The media devours palatable representations of 'ethnic' beauty. It allows them to truly believe they're celebrating diversity while continuing to maintain a certain aesthetic. This is certainly no new revelation, but Munn's presence in the news last week offers us another opportunity to consider the media’s habitual white washing of color.
    "No where has this practice been more noticeable than in images of African American women in film, television, and music. Black women come in a multitude of different shades: Freckly yellow, copper, blacker than black, and even ::whisper:: ashy gray. We have a multitude of different ass sizes and a plethora of hair textures. If, however, you grew up in a small and dark cave with nothing but the glow of a television to light your way, you would never know this."
  • "Impossible to ignore, the place became a magnet for expectations. Nearby shopkeepers figured it would bring in more business. Residents of public housing towers to the south hoped it would help clean up the streets. Some working-class and poor residents in the area took a dimmer view: the building seemed too expensive, too sleek — yet another Trojan horse smuggling gentrification into Harlem.

    "But the Kalahari has turned out to be not as homogenous as its imposing edifice might suggest. It is one of the city’s dozens of mixed-income condo buildings, making it a social engineering construct of sorts."

  • "An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the city’s lots are vacant, and there is a growing urban agriculture movement that community groups are using to reclaim the city. Malik Yakini, chairman of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, gives us a tour of D-Town Farm, one of the biggest urban farms in Detroit." 
  • "Every day, hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce travel through the South Bronx to the Hunts Point market, one of the world’s largest food distribution centers. Little of it is actually sold in the surrounding neighborhood.

    "So he decided to turn the model on its head, giving plan members a say in what is grown, and, with the help of nonprofit groups, making it less expensive as well."

  • "Carey's lawsuit is a counter-claim filed in response to a wrongful death suit filed by Bell's fiancee Nicole Paultre Bell filed against Carey and four other cops involved in Bell's death."

Open Thread: Chris Brown’s Tribute To Michael Jackson

By Site Lead Arturo R. García

That performance, of course, dominated the discussion regarding this year’s BET Music Awards, as an unannounced Chris Brown – his introduction by Jermaine Jackson was simply, “Here he is!” – performed a tribute to Michael Jackson. Personally, I was underwhelmed – not so much by Brown tearing up during “Man In The Mirror,” but by the silence that preceded it. As accurate as Brown’s dancing and costuming were, the absence of his voice diminished the moment’s impact. I’m not questioning Brown’s intentions, but put simply, I wasn’t moved.

But, we at The R would like to get your opinions on the performance, and on where Brown and his career could or should go from here. And collected under the cut are various reactions from around the Web.

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links for 2010-06-29

  • "Chris Brown's actions, however, shattered his image and destroyed the main function of his music. It's hard to imagine how he can move back into his role as a teen dream, now that he's admitted doing something no young woman would want done to her. (Not to mention the parents of girls who might have crushes on this handsome and smooth, if eager to reform, criminal.) The BET performance was problematic precisely because it felt like a bid to be washed clean, and because the audience members shown seemed ready with the baptismal water. Whatever Brown does, however sincerely remorseful he is, he can't go back. He will forever be in recovery."
  • "But for students and professors at overstretched colleges, these are hardly the best of times. With state financing slashed almost everywhere, many institutions have cut so deeply into their course offerings and their faculty rosters that they cannot begin to handle the influx of students.

    "In some parts of the country, the budget stresses are so serious that the whole concept of community colleges as open-access institutions — where anyone, with any educational background, can enroll at any point in life — is becoming more an aspiration than a reality."

  • "Boston police are trying a new weapon in their war on gangs. They're hoping a little old-fashioned public humiliation might help curb inner-city violence. But many fear the new tactic will backfire."
  • "At the time, the media hammered home a positive association of the soccer players with the country's poor suburbs. But as soon as the team began to play badly and the public grumbled about the star-studded lifestyle of team members, that message started to backfire.

    "'Before, we said the suburbs won the World Cup. Now it's all the opposite, and we say these children of the ghettoes lost it, and as a result we stigmatize the suburbs,' Gastaut said."

  • "Farm workers are tired of being blamed by politicians and anti-immigrant activists for taking work that should go to Americans and dragging down the economy, said Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers of America.

    "So the group is encouraging the unemployed — and any Washington pundits or anti-immigrant activists who want to join them — to apply for the some of thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins."

  • "This is not exactly new news – it’s a confirmation of earlier research by Roy Freedle of the Educational Testing Service also published in the Harvard Educational Review. The College Board, which administers the SAT, faced similar claims in 2003. The administrative body that also administers Advanced Placement tests has previously dismissed these claims by saying that 'since black students are less likely than white students to attend well-financed, generously-staffed elementary and secondary schools, their scores lag… American society is unfair, but the SAT is fair.'

    "Yeah, because classism is the only real form of oppression, and it’s not tied to racism at all!" 

“If You Throw a Punch, You’re One of Us”: The True Blood Round Table for Episode 2

Hosted by Latoya Peterson, featuring Tami Winfrey Harris, Andrea Plaid, and special guest Joseph Lamour


Note: Thea’s on vacation this week, so we added in friend of the blog Joseph Lamour to provide a fourth member of the side eye crew. As always, spoilers ahead. – LDP

Okay, first off – where are the rest of the non white folks in the South? So far, we have Tara, Lafayette, one vamp, the fake healer, a few one scene extras, and now a bouncer.

Tami: True Blood suffers from a case of “Hollywood diversity,” where you throw in a few people of color to give the appearance of diversity, but not “too many,” which might turn off mainstream (read: white) audiences whom you assume to be uncomfortable with “the other” (read: non-white people). This is important even if you are portraying a real place (NYC) or a fictional town in a real place (Bon Temps, La.) where there are, in reality, lots of people of color.

I’m guessing that Alan Ball and the other TB creatives figured that they could get away with such a thing because Bon Temps is a fictional place. If we ain’t heard of it, goes the thinking, who’s going to question the racial demographics of the town? (Now, why folks thought that thinking would play in a real-life place like New York City is beyond me, beyond some wish-fulfillment fantasy.) But, to me, Ball and Co. sorta play hide-and-seek with the town’s Black community, specifically: as someone pointed out to me, a larger community was glanced at during a college party in town a couple of seasons back. Also, a Twitter cohort and I, in discussing this very same issue, said another big hint was the church Tara’s mom attended, which my tweetpal said seems to be the church where the elders and the missing Bon Temps Black folks go. Also, the TB creatives forgot one vital clue as to why we even get to ask this question: Tara’s hair. Miss Gurl’s braids are tight every blessed week. She’s getting them done by somebody in that town, amirite?

Joe: At the very least, why isn’t there more diversity in the extras? True Blood does indeed suffer from a white-washed tableau of the modern south, and the most characters of color happen to be related. I bet the bouncer will somehow turn out to be related to Tara and Laffy (a distant cousin, perhaps). Wouldn’t you expect the humans to at least be a little, I don’t know, tan in so southern a place, even if they are white? I mean, Jason works all day in the sun, doesn’t he?

Andrea: Joe, now….that would be too much like right.

Can we talk about Tara for a moment? How does she always manage to sleep with the psychopaths (literally and figuratively)? I know I wasn’t the only one wondering how Tara managed to fight off Maryanne time and time again, yet still fall for this regular ass vampire glamouring….

Tami: My assessment of the Tara/Franklin situation is greatly colored by James Frain’s freaky sexiness. I’m going to enjoy it–weirdness aside. That said, I’d really like Tara to get some normal lovin’ on this show. I think it would be intriguing to re-explore the Sam/Tara relationship. They are both appear to be good people with difficult pasts. The characters/actors have solid chemistry. I doubt this will happen, though. As one of the show’s main male characters, Sam must carry a torch for darling “Sookeh!” like every other heterosexual male in town. Continue reading

The 20th anniversary of Oka and the continuation of unearthing human rights at the G8/G20

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Video after video, photo after photo, story after story came pouring in this weekend telling us about another friend or another relative who had been unlawfully arrested, beaten, spit on, psychologically, physically, and emotionally abused and relentlessly harassed by the police in Toronto. All this and more unearthing of human rights happened to the people for demonstrating, protesting, taking action and speaking out against one of the most undemocratic and unethical convenings of the world’s largest superpowers – the G8/G20.

Counts of the number of arrests that took place this past weekend are at some 500 or more – with some having now been released – but so many others remain cramped and overcrowded in the mass jails that were erected in what we know were government and state plans to throw people in and violate their human rights – which is of course in line with the entire theme of the G8/G20. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray were deployed by police at will and used against people of all ages who yes – were peacefully protesting (and I’m not going into the less than 100 who were not because they were the very small minority) but more importantly, YES IT IS our civil liberty and fundamental right to do so.

Reports also came rushing in about police keeping people cornered outside in the heavy rain for hours, as well as further accounts of violent police brutality directly inside and outside the jails – and I don’t owe them any benefit of the doubt to believe otherwise. This also occurred two intersections down the street from my house in Toronto.

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Coming Attractions: High School Sucks

By Site Lead Arturo R. García

You wouldn’t believe what I stumbled across on the ol’ Internetz, gang: a musical, set in high school, with POC who actually seem to figure into the primary storyline!

High School Sucks, as it’s called, is still being shot. But the creative team has already uploaded the (slightly NSFW – language) intro song, which instantly marks the project as the anti-Glee.

Wow, even the cheerleaders seem to be POC … we’ll follow up on this in the weeks ahead. The song, by the way, is available on iTunes if you’re into it.

Race + Comics Notes: The Missing Women Of Marvel

By Site Lead Arturo R. García

That’s Pepper Potts – Gwyneth Paltrow’s character from the Iron Man films – on the variant cover to Invincible Iron Man #29, part of Marvel Comics’ “Women Of Marvel” campaign.

Now check out the array of faces lining the cover. Sure, She-Hulk is green, marking her as a POC according to Ian Sattler – but aside from Storm, the image brings a certain song to mind:

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South Philly High Cuts Jobs Focusing on Student Safety

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Violet SuttonWhen South Philadelphia High School erupted into racial violence on December 3, community liaison Violet Sutton-Lawson was one of the few school staff members who actually did something — risking serious injury — to protect Asian students who were being beaten by mobs. Last week, she was laid off: South Philadelphia High aide who protected students from attack is laid off.

“I put my life in danger,” an angry, disbelieving Sutton-Lawson said in an interview. “They just laid me right off.”

Sutton-Lawson, who worked with pregnant students and teenage mothers, was bumped from her job by seniority rules, among 61 support staffers who were laid off to save money and consolidate duties.

Eleven community-relations jobs were eliminated, said spokesperson Evelyn Sample-Oates. But some of those employees had seniority that allowed them to displace other workers. Sutton-Lawson’s job at South Philadelphia High will be filled by one of those longer-tenured workers.

“It’s unfortunate,” Sample-Oates said. “Ms. Sutton-Lawson is welcome to apply for another position with the district.”

Sutton-Lawson earned about $36,000 a year, barely a decimal point in the $3.2 billion school budget but crucial to a woman who doesn’t own a car and lives in a tough area on Wharton Street.

Sutton-Lawson’s position was one of 61 jobs slashed from the payroll. Ironically, the job cuts have largely targeted employees who focus on student safety — 11 community-relations workers were 17 nonteaching assistants and 33 climate managers, who help keep schools calm.

They never even acknowledged her actions to protect students on December 3, but the school district was fine with sending her a layoff notice, no problem. And yet former South Philadelphia High School principal LaGreta Brown remains on the district’s payroll. How does any of this make sense?

(Image Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer)