links for 2010-08-31

  • "More significantly, the protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

    "Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, 'This is not a white country.'"

  • "This is also one of the reasons why there are so many black people on Twitter, if you missed the point. Even as some data suggests that African Americans are heavy mobile data users as well, it is imperative that we do not ignore talking and texting as options for communication. This is important whether you’re trying to run a business or start a movement.

    "It’s about lowering the bar to accessibility. One could argue that Twitter owes much of its success and growth to the fact that they supported SMS early on. No need for a special app or a data plan. It just worked on everything from the latest smartphone to the free Nokia with the monochrome screen. On the flip side, because so much of our community is into texting, Twitter and other platforms for SMS remain relevant and useful."

  • "That book was a poor and insulting choice. I'm sure Brooklyn College is still a great avenue for education, but I don't think that I should send it any more money."

    "The book that upset Kesler is called 'How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America' by a Swiss-born Brooklyn College professor named Moustafa Bayoumi.

    "It chronicles the stories of seven Arab-Americans in post-9/11 Brooklyn."

  • All the tips work well for diversity and inclusion. – LDP "Break Out of your Comfort Zone: "If you spend time in a homogeneous social network like Silicon Valley's VC community, then you will only get white, male ventured back candidates," said Geoff Livingston who has organized several conferences such as Blog Potomac. "It's your job to go beyond the comfort zone. Victimization maybe an easy out, but it won't stop the criticism of your inability to break out of limited social circles."
  • "[E]ven as the media criticize Tea Party and other conservative rallies for an apparent lack of diversity, they struggle to bring minority voices into their own operations.

    All three broadcast networks have described the Tea Parties as "overwhelmingly white." So have CNN, MSNBC, NPR, the Agence France Presse, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Journal and US News & World Report. Many of those organizations are the very ones the news industry discusses as having failed to make diversity goals for staff."

The Racialicious Review of If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, Part 1

By Arturo R. García

The best, most brutal thing about Spike Lee’s If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise is how it flows, showing us not just how the various residents and systems in New Orleans are connected, but how the breakdown of help for it and the state of Louisiana in the wake of both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill has infected the community on a variety of levels.

To do this, Lee brings back many of the residents viewers met in his last foray to the Crescent City, When The Levees Broke; Phyllis Montana-Leblanc (who also appears in Treme) opens the film with the eponymous poem seen above. From there, Lee veers into what might have been used as a “happy ending” for another film: a look at the local celebration of the New Orlean Saints’ Super Bowl win. From there, the bloom off the rose starts falling, and the reality of the situation is brought home by local activist M. Endesha Jukali: “After the Superbowl on that Sunday,” he tells us. “I was gonna have to get up and figure out how I was gonna eat the next morning, how I was gonna pay my bills, how I was gonna be able to survive. I’m not a who dat. I’m a who is that?”

Continue reading

links for 2010-08-30

  • "The island has often been called self-segregated, with most African-Americans here in Oak Bluffs. Its harbor drew freed slaves, laborers and sailors in the 18th century, and white locals sold them land. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, middle-class blacks bought or rented summer homes; many descendants returned annually. Most affluent whites live in Edgartown to the southeast or on farms and estates to the west, where Mr. Obama stays.

    "But many African-Americans here, year-rounders and summer visitors alike, insist it is not segregated. 'This is one of the most integrated communities, racially and economically, that there is,' said Vernon Jordan, the lawyer and former civil rights leader, who has rented a summer place for years."

  • Struggling with ridicule, Diandra Forrest capitalizes on unique beauty.
  • "On Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 Mr. Sharif picked up the perpetrator at 24th Street and Second Avenue, his first fare for the shift, and headed toward Times Square. The man, 21, started out friendly, asking Mr. Sharif about where he was from, how long he had been in America, if he was Muslim and if he was observing fast during Ramadan. He then first became silent for a few minutes and then suddenly started cursing and screaming. There, at about 6:15pm at Third Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, he yelled, “Assalamu Alaikum. Consider this a checkpoint,” and then slashed Mr. Sharif across the neck. As Mr. Sharif went to knock the knife out, the perpetrator, continuing to scream loudly, cut the taxi driver in the face (from nose to upper lip), arm and hand.

    “While a minority of has-been politicians spew ignorance and fear, it’s the working person on the street who has to face the consequences,” said NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai."

  • "Washington, D.C. is a city of contradictions. It has great wealth, but lots of poverty. It is the seat of our Federal government, but the people who live here aren't represented in that federal government. (But everyone still pays taxes.) The city government is limited in their power because the founding father's never thought people would live here on a permanent basis — you know? Other than their servants. Who couldn't vote when the country was founded, because they were slaves. So it shouldn't be particularly surprising that while this is a transient city whose professional class often changes with the Presidential Administration, the population that has always lived here, who was born here and will die here is mostly black."

Fatemeh Fakhraie Holds It Down for Muslimahs on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Fatemeh on CNN

Our own Fatemeh Fakhraie, the amazing editor of Muslimah Media Watch and a contributing editor to AltMuslimah, just showed up on CNN to talk about portrayals of Muslim women in the media:

Muslim women are more high profile than ever in 2010. However, a problem remains: news stories about them are fixated on appearance.

Most major stories about Muslim women revolve around how they look and what they’re wearing — not who they are and what they are doing.

A flurry of articles came forth in both repudiation and defense of the burqa ban, focusing on that little piece of cloth that covers some women’s faces.

Other articles lauded it as “a comfortable garment” and “part of our identity,” condemning the ban as an erosion of personal freedoms and counter to the principles of the French republic.

Very few of the articles included viewpoints of women who wear the niqab, and none of the articles included the perspectives of the French Muslim women who would be directly affected by the ban.

High visibility does not directly translate into having your voice heard.

Read the rest, and show her some love…

Michael Jackson, Glenn Beck, MLK, and the Worlds We Create

by Latoya Peterson

Tubman Elementary Mural

“Can anyone help? Anyone?”

Last Thursday, standing underneath the hot noon day sun, I yelled out to the large crowd waiting in line for the monthly food aid provided by the mayor’s office. The crowd stretched for blocks, and my team and I set out with bottled water, candy, and bags full of surveys. We had hoped to harness the 200+ person food line for the Public Media Corps survey of the digital environment in DC. The crowd was composed of people who are generally overlooked when talking about online innovation – many of the people there were low-income, most speak Spanish as a primary language, and many did not have internet access at home.

Everyone was willing to help with the survey, particularly honing in on key words like “free,” “courses,” “training,” “jobs,” and “media.” But we soon realized we had a much bigger hurdle to jump – between the four of us, there was only one fluent Spanish speaker (as well as one “fluent in Spanglish”), and our survey was not designed for people with low literacy rates. In English, administering the survey was difficult enough – as one of the fellows surveying Ward 8 noted, what took fully literate people about 5 minutes to blow through took about 20 for those with lower rates of reading comprehension. In Spanish, with the difficulties translating technical terms and low levels of Spanish fluency among the team, that task was damn near impossible.

A sweet-faced tween girl volunteered to help translate, freeing up the other fellows to try to piece together the survey. I asked the girl the questions, she shouted back to her parents, and other people on the line chimed in when they could to help translate. In the end, we had about fifteen people all collaborating with bits of English and snatches of Spanish to get the questions answered. But it still wasn’t enough to capture as many people as were moving through the food line. Ultimately, we left frustrated – out of more than 200 people, we only got 30 surveys answered between us. Those surveys were illuminating, and spoke to the needs of having a variety of community access points and more Spanish language programming, but it also spoke to a gnawing fear that had been growing in all of us tasked with working in ward one – can we really capture the essence of the community in Columbia Heights – Shaw – Mount Pleasant – U Street – Adams Morgan from our tiny, language-limited viewpoints?

We have a reason to be concerned. The Washington DC council’s official website states:

Ward One is diversity – From the majestic Victorians of upper Columbia Heights, to Adams Morgan’s renowned entertainment district, to Howard University, historic U Street and LeDroit Park, the ward is home to some extraordinary places—and some extraordinary people. The neighborhoods of Ward One have a familiar ring to many people – LeDroit Park, U Street, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Shaw, Park View, and Pleasant Plains.

Ward One is the smallest, most densely populated ward in the District of Columbia. It’s also the only ward where you’ll find no population group with a majority. Thousands of African Americans, whites, Latinos, Vietnamese, Ethiopians and others make their home here. In just one of our ZIP codes, 20009, 136 countries are represented. The Brookings Institution says that’s the most diverse ZIP code in the entire region. And more than 40% of the public school students in Ward One do not speak English as their primary language. Indeed, according to an Urban Institute study in 2003, DC’s most diverse neighborhoods are within Ward One.

This diversity brings a lot of amazing things to the neighborhood, but poses a particular challenge to inclusion – namely, how can we meet the needs of so many different people, particularly when the needs are so great?

That question weighed heavily on my mind into the weekend, which was enough to push out all the noise about the coming events. Thinking about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally invading Washington, DC made me feel a bit ill. Luckily, it was easily avoided, especially since I live near the ever-so-dangerous yellow/green line. In the interest of my own sanity, I chose to stay close to home.

Friday night, after another day of survey gathering and site visits, I headed over to the 9:30 club for DJ Dredd’s dance party to celebrate Michael Jackson’s birthday. As we swayed with the crowd rocking along to Michael’s (and Janet’s!) greatest hits, an observation kept pushing to the forefront of my mind, one I had wanted to write about last year when he passed. While much was written about the racial politics of Michael Jackson, particularly in reference to his skin color/plastic surgeries, there was little discussion of the most striking part of Michael’s racial politics: the worlds he created in his music videos. Most folks are familiar with two of his most political hits, “Black or White” and “Man in the Mirror.”

But what always stood out to me was the populations of Michael’s created worlds – which were overwhelmingly multicultural, featuring a lot of different types of people all rolling with the King of Pop. Continue reading

In the Back of the Kitchen

By Guest Contributor quadmoniker, cross-posted from PostBourgie

Top Chef’s contributions to the reality show genre don’t come from exciting cliff-hangers or the evil machinations of those who would only win by cheating: the ingredients that make it work best are good chefs cooking food that looks pretty and makes you want to eat it. Occasionally, there’s a key rivalry or a chef you want to hate. The two chefs everyone hated are now gone: possible-pea thief Alex left last week, and Amanda, the overly-intense, scatterbrained former addict who never seemed to get anything right, was finally voted off last night. But before that, another source of drama this season ended prematurely when Kenny Gilbert, whose long-simmering rivalry with Angelo made him seem more talented than he probably was, was voted off after the Restaurant Wars episode. (Restaurant Wars is the show’s bread and butter: two groups of chefs start restaurants and compete to win.)

Kenny inspired a lot of inappropriately racist, pimpish nicknames, like chocolate bear and big daddy, and, when he was kicked off, an unfortunate number of outdated South Park  jokes (I think you know the one). But mostly he was a gregarious, lovable self-promoter; fans believed he was the big cheese because he said he was every week. In truth, his cooking skill seemed uneven. But whether you think he deserved to go or not, his absence highlights a longstanding problem with the show:  there hasn’t been enough diversity, and it is particularly problematic in the way it portrays its black chefs. Diversity on a reality TV show might not seem the most important topic, ever, but it evidences two things: one, the dearth of people of color at the top of many fields extends to reality contests that purport to propel novices to the top of those fields; and two, shows like this in which contestants are judged subjectively still often pick white male winners.

Continue reading

links for 2010-08-29

  • "No, African Americans aren't the only ones having kids out of wedlock. But, yes, the news is worst in that community, where, in recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 72% of new babies were born out of wedlock, versus 28% among whites and 17% among Asians. This is not in the skin. It is not about color. It's about culture.

    "And if the culture doesn't change, neither will the pattern."

  • Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck. And there is no road too low for him to slither upon. The Southern Poverty Law Center tells us that in a twist on the civil rights movement, Beck said on the air that he 'wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us go to jail — just like Martin Luther King did — on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming.'”
  • "At his funeral and in interviews afterward, a portrait emerged of a small, insular but energized community that is proud but underpinned by a constant tug of race and religiosity.

    "Nobody keeps track of how many black Orthodox Jews are in New York or across the nation, and surely it is a tiny fraction of both populations. Indeed, even the number of black Jews over all is elusive, though a 2005 book about Jewish diversity, “In Every Tongue,” cited studies suggesting that some 435,000 American Jews, or 7 percent, were black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian."

  • "Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Robinson moved to Brooklyn at age 12, eventually turning to drugs and street crime. A close friend shot him seven years later, leading him to abandon drugs. He took up hip-hop and invested in a record company in Los Angeles, living a life he described as indulgent. When he was 23, a request for a Bible elicited a Torah and that led eventually to a life of Orthodox Judaism and a return to Brooklyn — where he was murdered August 19.

    "Robinson, 34, fell at the hands of the lifestyle he had abandoned: He was shot while trying to save his girlfriend from a masked robber who attacked her in the Brooklyn liquor store where Robinson worked as clerk. Police said they were questioning a suspect they did not name."

  • "New Orleans now hosts 354,850 residents, almost 78 percent of its pre-Katrina population. At the same time, the city has become significantly whiter since the storm: It is now only 60 percent black, compared to 67 percent black, pre-Katrina. And many of the poorer black people who left town after the storm have yet to return."
  • "So while it has become quite unfashionable these days to believe that race could play a role in anyone's success or failure, it would seem by process of elimination that the only 'evidence' his blogging detractors hoped to woo the gullible with are the facts that Williams is black, and shares a first name with Elijah Mohammed, late founder of the Nation of Islam sect of African-American Muslims."
  • "The trick is figuring out whether a person’s distrust of non-native speakers stems from prejudice or incomprehension. To tease these factors apart, the researchers designed two experiments. First, they asked a group of 35 people to judge the truthfulness of trivial statements, like 'Ants don’t sleep' and 'A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can,' recited by people with various accents — Turkish, Polish, Korean, Italian and Austrian-German — as well as native English speakers. In all cases, the subjects were told that the speakers were merely reciting statements provided by the experimenter and were not the source of the material. Yet even when speakers were 'only the messenger, listeners distrusted non-native speakers more than they did native English speakers."

links for 2010-08-27

  • "Thinking about running for eighth grade class president at Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi? Well… are you white? Because only white kids are allowed to run for president. Black kids can be vice-president, though! But only black kids."
  •  What was less forgivable was that the president missed — or consciously passed up — a racial teaching moment that he is uniquely suited for. He started off in a promising direction: He told Walters that early in his life, he decided that if he was going to be called an African American, he "wasn't going to run away from that." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of African Americans, but all right. But in a rhetorical triangulation of the sort that has become all too familiar, he went on to say colors were 'labels' that were far less important than how people treated each other, a sentiment that got predictable applause."
  • For many 19th- and 20th-century immigrants or their children, it was a rite of passage: Arriving in America, they adopted a new identity.

    Today, most experts agree, that traditional immigrant gambit has all but disappeared.

    Precise comparative statistics are hard to come by, and experts say there was most likely no one precise moment when the practice fell off. It began to decline within the last few decades, they say, and the evidence of its rarity, if not formally quantified, can be found in almost any American courthouse.

    The rationale was straightforward: adopting names that sounded more American might help immigrants speed assimilation, avoid detection, deter discrimination or just be better for the businesses they hoped to start in their new homeland.

  • While some detractors made the argument that adopting the new color was unacceptable simply as a breach of tradition, Angle — who was in the midst of an eventually successful campaign for school board — and others argued that wearing black jerseys was closer to sacrilege.
    "I cannot quote scripture as they did to justify their point but the gist of their argument was that black as a color was thoroughly evil, invoking the supernatural and especially the devil," Roberts reports. "Whichever argument prevailed, school administrators caved in and prohibited the Muckers from wearing the black apparel."
    The black uniforms were then confiscated and held under "lock and key" by the administration, which refused to compensate the team for the money they had spent acquiring the jerseys.
  • "The hit indie sex comedy The People I've Slept With continues its theatrical run, opening this Friday, August 27 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood. Make plans, grab your friends, and check out the funny, sexy and feel-good movie that's been making big waves with festival audiences everywhere.

    I do want to throw an extra plug for Saturday night… If you're headed to the 7:30pm screening, you can party with me and Audrey Magazine. I'll be moderating the post-screening Q & A with the cast and crew. I will try my best to ask thoughtful, provocative questions."

  • "In a weekly conference call today with international stores and corporate heads, the AA chief blamed a lack of immigration reform and media misunderstandings for the company's woes. According to a source listening to the call, Charney disputed reports that the company is nearing bankruptcy and out of cash. Rather, he said, one of the core issues is AA's employment troubles. "The real core issue is we lost 2,500 people," Charney said, referring to what American Apparel attorney and spokesman Peter Schey calls a "routine" 18-month investigation and early 2010 immigration and customs enforcement action that resulted in the loss of workers, many of whom didn't have proper immigration documents. (Schey tells Fast Company the number of employees shed after the enforcement action was more like 1,500.)"