links for 2010-12-08

  • "A year later, there’s no doubt South Philadelphia High School is a very different school. A new principal, an energized student base, emerging partnerships, a commitment to addressing school violence – all have resulted in striking progress. The violence and chaos of last year is largely gone, and students report a changed attitude from staff members, some of whom had participated in the harassment by mocking their accents and refusing to take seriously their reports of racial bias. But the absence of physical violence is hardly a sufficient standard for an institution of learning.

    Despite the progress, it’s clear that racial biases and stereotypes linger, community tensions simmer under the surface, adults still claim that racial bias isn’t a factor at the school, and the District continues to evade responsibility for changing the climate of schools."

  • "When Kathy Griffin hosted VH1's Divas Salute the Troops over the weekend, she joked that Bristol Palin had gained so much weight during Dancing With The Stars that she'd become the "white Precious."
  • "When Wikileaks released thousands of classified US diplomatic cables this week, a familiar criticism was repeated by the project's foes: these leaks could harm innocent people. There's no evidence of that yet, but within the documents there is evidence the American government has harmed innocent people.

    One of them is Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, and a victim of so-called "extraordinary rendition." He was a car salesman in Germany, a father of six. The CIA kidnapped him by mistake (his name sounds and looks identical to that of an actual terror suspect), and sent off to receive months of torture in Afghanistan.

    When the CIA realized he was innocent, he was flown to Albania and dumped on a back road without so much as an apology. "

  • "Race is constructed radically differently across cultural contexts, and it’s often quite a shock to see how much. For example, we were having a conversation a couple of weeks ago about the case of Tarran Betterridge, an Aboriginal Australian woman who was denied a job because her skin tone was considered too light for her to be a proper Aboriginal representative. I realised that I would really have to go to some lengths to explain to you, a primarily US audience, how Indigenous Australian identities are constructed: a combination of ancestry, community acceptance and self-identification. From what I’ve gauged, in the United States, skin colour seems to figure a lot more dominantly in how race is constructed. And I’ve been thinking about how vital the particular history and cultural forms of a context are for constructing racial identity. "
  • "Yesterday, both Argentina and Uruguay announced that they recognized Palestine as an independent state, following Brazil’s lead, who recognized Palestine on Friday. The countries recognize Palestine as it was in 1967 , before the so-called 'Six-day War' between Israel and Palestine when Israel took Gaza and the West Bank."
  • "For today’s love we thought we’d recognize a couple of phenomenally successful Asian and Asian American artists who we think are more than qualified for future awards which recognize a set of people who, as Kennedy Center Chair David Rubenstein said, 'have spent their lives enriching, inspiring and elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world.'

    "For starters, we think very highly of Maya Lin, the artist and architect most famous for designing the Vietname Veterans’ War Memorial in Washington, D.C. thirty years ago while still in art school. Since then she’s gone on to a successful career in architecture, but has also fit in the kinds of monuments that memorialize, but never enshrine, this country’s political history. Lin also designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. President Obama clearly already knows how talented Lin is. He awarded her a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009."

  • "The move mirrors similar prunings around the country at other public colleges and universities that are reeling from steep drops in state aid. After a generation of expansion, academic officials are being forced to lop entire majors. More often than not, foreign languages — European ones in particular — are on the chopping block.

    "The reasons for their plight are many. Some languages may seem less vital in a world increasingly dominated by English. Web sites and new technologies offer instant translations. The small, interactive classes typical of foreign language instruction are costly for universities."

  • "Her most unflinching comments, however, center on race — specifically, the racial dynamics surrounding the Obama presidency and the increasing suspicion by many progressives that Palin, the Tea Partiers and the entire anti-Obama establishment are motivated by racism.

    "Palin clearly thinks not. In fact, on Planet Palin, racism essentially does not exist but is merely a misanthropic by-product of African Americans' refusal to shut up, toughen up and truly become American patriots. This question of patriotism versus racism has been tackled by both white and black leaders since before the Civil War."