Native Students Rebut ABC’s ‘Children of the Plains’

By Guest Contributor Debbie Reese, cross-posted from American Indians in Children’s Literature

In October of 2011, ABC broadcast “Children of the Plains” on its 20/20 news program. Watching the promos for it, I shook my head. Diane Sawyer gave her viewers a very narrow program that did little to portray Native youth in the fullness of their existence.

Today (December 13, 2011) I’m sharing a rebuttal to Sawyer.

Please watch More Than That, and share it with as many people as you can. Those of you who work with children’s literature in some way, keep this video in mind when you’re reviewing books. We need literature that reflects the entirety of who we are rather than an outsiders romantic or derogatory misconception.
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Excerpt: Monique Poirier previews her vision for Native American steampunk

Native Science understands that nature is technology – a compost pile is a massively-tested super-applicable multifaceted waste management system resulting from four billion years of research and development where you put food waste in and get high-yield fertilizer out and the whole process is carbon neutral!

I imagine a Steampunk North America (Turtle Island) in which the buffalo population wasn’t deliberately eradicated for genocidal purposes and which thus still enjoys the resources of vast areas of tall grass prairie (you need buffalo to have prairie as much as you need prairie to have buffalo because many seeds will not germinate correctly or thrive without passing through a buffalo’s digestive system unless human intervention is applied). I imagine a Turtle Island in which deforestation is severely curtailed and vast areas of old-growth forest are deliberatly maintained. I imagine city architecture utilizing rammed-earth walls and green roofs on large communal buildings, and time-tested local building technologies on smaller, private residences. I imagine populous cities designed for walkability and communal pedestrian culture. I imagine a North America in which the Black Hills are not defaced with gigantic carved graffiti of doofy white dudes.

By the 19th century in my alternate timeline, Turtle Island has a thriving, technologically advanced pan-Indian culture, a collective of independent nations with distinct regionalisms that has a UN-like organization to engage with the global community. A group of nations that meets Europe as equals and trades technology and cultural influences as such.

- From “Musing About Native Steampunk”

Friday Links Roundup 12-16-11

Giving plastic toys a trip to the hair salon sounds like a huge undertaking. But maybe that’s the kind of thing it takes to combat the pervasive and problematic messages about beauty with which black women are inundated, beginning in childhood. And it’s as good as any other idea we’ve heard to combat this generations-old issue.

 

It’s common in sports for a team to have some kind of collective ritual to pump themselves up before a game. Often, this will take the form of a chant, like it did with the girls basketball team at Kenmore East High School, located in the Buffalo, N.Y. suburb of Tonawonda. Taken alone, doesn’t sound so bad. But when you find out that the chant was, “One, two, three, [N-word]!” – that, obviously, is a problem.

A big problem. So big, in fact, that it led to the suspension of the entire team – practice for the rest of the week was canceled, and the team’s Saturday game was postponed. Apparently the controversy started when the only African-American player on the team, Tyra Batts, confronted her teammates about it.

The authors analyzed the responses to four key questions by 40,677 individuals from 31 countries, drawn from the 2008 wave of the cross-national European Values Study. One question assessed “subjective well being,” indicated by general satisfaction with life. Another measured national pride. The other two neatly indicated ethnic and civic national boundaries — asking respondents to rate the importance of respect for laws and institutions, and of ancestry, to being a true . . . fill in the blank . . . German, Swede, Spaniard. The researchers controlled for such factors as gender, work status, urban or rural residence, and the country’s per capita GDP.

Like other researchers, they found that more national pride correlated with greater personal well-being. But the civic nationalists were on the whole happier, and even the proudest ethnic nationalists’ well-being barely surpassed that of people with the lowest level of civic pride.

    EXTRACT FROM LETTER TO THE AGE NEWSPAPER (voiceover): On a recent Thursday night a large group of medical students went to an organised event at a well known nightclub in Toorak to celebrate finishing our first year exams. At the door, I, a Caucasian female was allowed entry whereas my close friend of Sri Lankan heritage was denied entry and given various excuses.

    A girl of Indian background was also denied entry. I later found out a group of Botswana medical students, new to Australia, were also turned down because they were not dressed well enough.

    SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The acting commissioner of Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Karen Toohey, says reports of racism outnumber formal complaints.

    KAREN TOOHEY: A couple of comments including things like – we’ve had Aboriginal people in here before and they’ve caused trouble, we don’t like African people coming into our venues – so quite specific comments that are being reported to us which clearly say that the refusal of entry is on the grounds of colour or race.

      There are no African-American punters or kickers in the N.F.L. While white athletes shy away from cornerback because, in their minds, it requires too much athleticism, many African-American players eschew punting and kicking because it is not athletic enough.

      Claude Mathis, the coach at DeSoto (Tex.) High School, said he had to beg his best player to kick and punt. “Kids make fun of you when you’re a punter,” he said. “When you’re an athlete. you don’t want to be labeled as punter or kicker; kids will make fun of you.”

      But they didn’t make fun of Bryson Echols: he is an all-American cornerback and “an athlete” at DeSoto, headed to the University of Texas.

    #MARKSWATCH: The Response and The Meme

    By Arturo R. García

    Well, that didn’t take long.

    Gene Marks’ “If I Were A Poor Black Kid” piece for Forbes led to justifiably angry responses. Among them was Baratunde Thurston’s “Letter from a poor black kid” for CNN:

    Thank you Mr. Marks. You have changed everything about my life. Thanks to your article, I worked to make sure I got the best grades, made reading my number one priority and created better paths for myself. If only someone had suggested this earlier.

    But that was just the beginning of how your exceptionally relevant, grounded and experience-based advice changed my life. Thanks only to your article, I discovered technology.

    Why did my teachers not teach this? Why isn’t this technology mentioned anywhere in popular culture? I don’t understand, but you do.

    You listed so many different websites and resources, at first it was overwhelming. But I didn’t let that deter me. I thought to myself, “If a successful, caring, complicated, intelligent man like Gene Marks says to do it, then I’d better head over to rentcalculators.org right now!”

    As Colorlines reported Thursday, Marks posted a response at CNN. The somewhat underwhelming transcript is under the cut.

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    Didn’t You Forget Me? A Queer Black Feminist’s Analysis of the Black Marriage Debate

    by Guest Contributor Taja Lindley, originally published at Nicole Clark’s Blog

    By now we are all too familiar with the preoccupation with the unmarried Black woman in the media. The question that keeps getting raised is: “Why can’t a Black woman understand, find and keep a man?”
    Fundamentally I don’t have a problem with conversations about love and relationships. I have them all the time. What’s unfair about this question, and the conversation that follows, is what’s at stake because when single white women search for love, they get an HBO series (Sex and the City). But when unmarried Black women are approaching, at, or over the age of 30: it’s a crisis, it’s a catastrophe with severe consequences for the ENTIRE Black community, warranting late night specials on major television networks and talk shows dedicating entire segments to finding us a man.The conversation always becomes “what’s wrong with Black women? “ and we get demonized as: unlovable, broken, undesirable, domineering, angry, aggressive, incompatible, uncompromising, too compromising, (in the words of Tyrese) too independent, possessing unrealistic expectations…and the list goes on.Then here come Black-male-entertainers-turned-experts on their horses with shining armor to save the Black woman from herself! To save her from her own pathological destruction so she can do a better job of successfully creating and preserving the Black family. (Damn, that must be a lot of responsibility.)

    Conversations like these put Black women on the defensive where now we need to explain what we think, how we act, and for what reasons so that these so-called experts can give us paternalistic and patriarchal prescriptions for solving the so-called crisis of the unmarried Black woman.

    Academic professor and researcher Ralph Richard Banks, recent author of Is Marriage for White People?, administers the latest advice for us. He enters the conversation on the assumption that has gone unchecked: that all Black women are successful, and all Black men are victims of America…as if heterosexual Black women seeking marriage aren’t in poverty with a net wealth of $5, suffering from wage discrimination, or also dealing with escalating rates of incarceration. But setting those facts aside, he advises that Black women consider interracial marriage for the purposes of bolstering the Black family and better serving our race. (No, I’m not making this up, see for yourself.)

    So clearly what’s at stake here is the Black family. Not Black women’s happiness, not our ability to learn and grow as lovers and partners in a relationship or in marriage. What’s at stake is the responsibility that consistently gets laid on our back about the success or failure of the ENTIRE Black community. As if single parent families headed by women are the root cause for disparities and inequality. (Sound familiar? Yup, kind of like the Moynihan Report.) Continue reading

    Shame: The Interracial Relationship, The Casting, The Homophobia

    By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

    I saw Shame a couple of weeks ago with my homie Sarah Jaffe…and, on the real, I wanted to check out the flick because I wanted to see Michael Fassbender’s full frontal nudity. (And, considering how quick the box-office attendant was asking for photo IDs for this NC-17 flick, I guess quite a few under-17 others were trying to see the younger Magneto’s full frontal nudity, too.)

    MAJOR SPOILER ALERT after the jump.

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    Voices: Reactions To ‘If I Were A Poor Black Kid’

    By Arturo R. García

    Just when you thought Satoshi Kanazawa had wrapped up Tone-Deaf Article Of The Year honors for 2011, Forbes’ Gene Marks sauntered his way into consideration Monday with “If I Were A Poor Black Kid,” which spun a speech by President Obama on economic inequality into a privilege-fest with bon mots like these, emphasis mine:

    If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

    Somehow Forbes chose not to tag the bit about good grades as BREAKING NEWS. But maybe Marks’ editors didn’t want to overshadow the moment when he breaks it down even further than the President. That whole Occupy business? Totally barking up the wrong tree:

    President Obama was right in his speech last week. The division between rich and poor is a national problem. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them. Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grand mom) is working two jobs to survive and are just (understandably) too plain tired to do anything else in the few short hours they’re home. Many have teachers who are overburdened and too stressed to find the time to help every kid that needs it. Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves – like my kids. Except that my kids are just lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system around to push them in the right direction.

    And about Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry thinking Marks’ column sounded like something out of The Onion? Well, she’s not wrong:

    You know, it occurs to me that you don’t even live in America. And I’ve got to know, what the heck are you doing living in Sri Lanka? What do they have there? Camels? Rugs? Well, I can tell you one thing they don’t have: 100 percent grade-A American opportunity.

    America is the land of milk and honey. You can probably catch a flight here from Sri Lanka for as little as $2,500 if you shop around. So what’s keeping you? Okay, I can imagine how it is: you live in a back alley and you eat garbage. And maybe you don’t have the liquid capital to outlay $2,500 on a luxury-like first-class airfare to the U.S. Well, you can always fly coach for about a third of first-class fare, and if worst comes to worst, put it on the plastic. As long as you pay it off as quickly as you can, the interest won’t cramp your style. (See Tip #1.)

    It should also be noted that, as, Talking Point Memo’s Callie Schweitzer pointed out, Marks has also applied his “wisdom” to gender-equality issues in the workplace:

    Women also have more personal and social pressures than men. And this affects their ability to further their careers and get the experience they need to become good managers. It’s common today for families to have two working parents. But let’s admit it, when little Johnny gets sick at school who’s the first person that’s usually called? When a child is up at night coughing, which parent is staying up with her? When the plumber has to make an emergency morning visit, who’s generally staying at home to deal with it?

    It’s usually mom. And even if she has a full time job too.

    When my wife and I were younger and our baby would cry in the middle of the night I would put a pillow…over my head. That stopped the crying for sure. My wife (who was working full time by the way) was the one who got out of bed to care for the child. Yes, I was an ass. I’m not saying that many dads don’t pitch in or try to do their fair share. But as much as women have achieved in earning their equality, there are still some age old cultural habits that won’t die. Children need their mommies. And most moms I know, whether they have a full time job or not, want to be there for their child. I know plenty of women who admit they struggle with this instinctual tug on their gut. Men don’t have this kind of instinctual tug. Let’s face it: unless there’s beer involved, men don’t have many instincts at all. We figure our wives will ultimately handle these things. And in many cases, they just do.

    I could go on and on, and but, you know – beer. More reaction from around the ‘Net under the cut.

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