Category Archives: diversity

The Boston Globe asks “Why Should a Journalist’s Race Matter?”

by Latoya Peterson


This could have been a good op-ed.

Reading through Jeff Jacoby’s rant about how some people have the nerve to wonder about racial parity in the press corps, I just kept shaking my head. One could have argued that if journalism, in general, is on the decline it follows logic that minority journalists will be disproportionately affected and start disappearing from the rolls. So, one could then logically argue to fix the racial gaps in the press corps, we would need to start by fixing the foundation of the press corps.

Or, one could have argued that as old notions of district boundaries and “ethnic” enclaves are eroding away, so should the idea of “ghettoizing” correspondents. So, it would be reasonably expected for a white reporter to be able to cover an issue outside of their community with the same level of insight and aplomb as a community insider. (I would say vice versa, but many minority writers, self-included, are expected to be able to “write white” already.)

Or, I could have even accepted yet another “post-racial” America type of commentary where they argue that since whites proved willing to cross the color barrier in voting for Obama, it means that journalists should be able to venture out and cover all issues, regardless of race, because a new level of understanding has been reached. (I would disagree with this, but I could accept it.)

But Jacoby’s piece is the same old, same old.

But why should it matter to anyone but a racist whether a White House reporter is black or white? Well, says Michael Fletcher, a colleague of Kurtz’s, “you would want to have black journalists there to bring a different racial sensibility.” By the same token, more evangelical journalists would presumably bring a different religious sensibility to the White House, more journalists from the Deep South would bring a different regional sensibility, and more Republican journalists would bring a different political sensibility. Do you know of any news organizations that are fretting over the “relative paucity” of evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans on their payrolls? Me neither.

As if these things were equal. As if evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans were systematically excluded from society (and the press corps) for years due to institutionalized racism and the pervasive idea of segregation. Continue reading

The 3 Biggest Workplace Diversity Blunders

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Before you ask – no, that’s not me in the pic. :)

If your organization is anything like the ones I’ve worked with over the past five years, it’s dealing with a serious case of diversity fatigue.

You probably hear groans of exasperation every time a diversity training session is announced. Your boss, who claims to be so committed to advancing diversity, has somehow managed to skip every single diversity council meeting this year. Your organization’s big diversity event of the year is so old-school and irrelevant (ethnic food potluck, anyone?) that it has become the laughing stock of the staff.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Deep down inside, you know there’s a better way to “do” diversity in 2009. You know the old approach is broken. You know that if your organization truly wants to recruit and retain top talent of color, it needs to overhaul the way it thinks about race and diversity.

But exactly which changes should your organization make? And what can you do personally to help?

Good news: I’m ready to share with you exactly what you need to know on this free first-time teleseminar happening on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm Eastern…

“The 3 Biggest Diversity Blunders
Your Organization Could Be Making Right Now
(And How to Avoid Them)”

Sign up to reserve your line for this FREE call today!

On this 60-minute call, you’ll learn:

  • Why your colleagues are right to scoff at diversity training — it actually doesn’t work! I’ll show you why not, and let you know what does work instead.
  • Why your organization’s executives should never proclaim that they’re colorblind and that they “just don’t notice race,” unless they want to offend a lot of their employees.
  • The one thing your organization must avoid at all costs unless you want its diversity efforts to fail spectacularly.

You know by now that I’m not going to waste your time by giving you fluff information.

This free call is chock-full of specific information that will show you exactly why your organization hasn’t become the leader in diversity it wants to be. Then, I’ll give you the resources to change that around so that you can help your organization gain a crucial competitive edge by recruiting and retaining top diverse talent.

No matter what your current situation is, I guarantee you’ll get at least one golden nugget during this never-before-offered call. Remember, it’s FREE – a new year’s gift from me.

Limited lines are available for this call, so you’ll want to make sure you reserve your spot right away.

Multiple Narratives and Contestations Over the Righteous Struggle

by Guest Contributor Margari Aziza Hill, originally published at Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman*?

According to census data and information provided by mosques and community centers, Muslims in America make up .5% of the total population in America. Keeping it conservative, that equals just under 2 million. Some estimates go as far to say that there are 5 million Muslims in America. I tend to stay on the conservative side because I don’t believe that boasting in numbers serves any cause.

Still, 2 million is a lot of people. And there have been multiple and contradictory narratives about American Islam. Who has the right to speak for American Muslims? Who are the real Muslims? Who will define the agenda for American Muslims? Last year, a huge debate exposing the immigrant Black American divide rocked the Muslim American community and we’re still reeling to recover from it. And when I speak of community, I talk about it in the broadest sense. I am not making any claims that Muslim Americans are a monolithic group. I’m not trying to be a downer, but the reality is that Muslim Americans do not vote in a unified way, have various political and economic interests that often conflict with their co-religionists, nor is there a central authoritative religious head that guides us all. Rather, this diverse group of people from various socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds with different political and social orientations comprises a community because we believe that There is no God but the one True God and that Muhammad is his prophet. Therefore, we share daily patterns of worship, rituals of birth, marriage, and death, etc. Mosques are also diverse, which contributes to a greater sense of community. And there are some national organizations that do work to defend Muslims’ civil liberties, foster community development, and create a forum for interfaith understanding.

I’ve written in the past and have been interviewed about the silencing of Black American Muslim voices in the past decade. Some national Muslim organizations have been critiqued for their failure to include issues of interest to Black American and other indigenous (I sort of cringe to use that word because I do have Native American relatives who might take umbrage with its use) Muslims such as white American and Latino/Hispanic Muslims. However, in many ways I don’t like how the public conversation has developed in the past year. I am troubled when some Black American Muslims use the same rhetoric and language that Islamophobes use to critique mainstream Muslim organizations dominated by first and second generation immigrants or those organizations that have an internationalist outlook. I am also bothered when I read or hear immigrant or second generation Muslims dismiss the tremendous sense of marginalization that some of us Black American Muslims have experienced in their communities. Continue reading

Black Conservatism Revisited

by Guest Contributor David Schraub, originally published at The Debate Link

First of all, I want to thank all of the folks who have helped touch off this conversation and have given me so many kind words, particularly Andrew Sullivan for the original link, Rod Dreher at Crunchy Con and the Dallas Morning News, Jim Buie, Robert George, Rafique Tucker (who gets special shout-out as a fellow Marylander), and all the other folks who have left comments or emailed me. I really think this is an important conversation to be had, and I’m particularly gratified that so many people have been so willing to accept with an open mind the existence of parallel Black political orientations which don’t perfectly map on to what we normally think of as “liberal” and “conservative”.

I wanted to take this opportunity to tie up a couple loose threads in my brief exposition of Black Conservative ideology, the most glaring of which was relying a bit too heavily on separatism as a unifying factor of Black Conservatism. To be sure, I think that it is a very important strand in Black Conservative thought, and one that exists left and right. But someone inquired how Clarence Thomas (who is quite tied in with an important “White” institution, after all) fits into this metric. And he doesn’t — at least, not quite. Justice Thomas is clearly not a separatist. But he does, I believe, subscribe to the more critical aspect of Black Conservatism — a deep skepticism that Whites will abandon racism, particularly due to high-minded moral appeals. But unlike the separatists, Thomas’ Black Conservatism simply urges Black people to accept that racism will be there and will always be there — and win anyway. Elsewhere I called it the “hit me with your best shot” strain of Black Conservatism — that which does not kill Black people makes them stronger, so rather than complain or fruitlessly war against the existence of racist people and racist institutions in American life, just grit your teeth, lower your shoulder, and win the game. Continue reading

Did The Tardis Miss The Boat? Looking At The Latest Doctor

by Special Correspondent Arturo Garcia

MattSmith

A message-board buddy of mine summed up my reaction perfectly: “And just who the hell is Matt Smith?”

Turns out the 26-year-old has been cast as the newest lead in Doctor Who, as confirmed Saturday. But, on one level, Matt Smith will represent, to me, a wasted opportunity.

Not that I think Smith will make a bad Doctor, necessarily; despite what some old-school Whovians may tell you, the series is hardly ever bad. But at a time when both the oddsmakers and popular opinion were backing the idea of the first Doctor of color, or the first female Doctor, this was the perfect chance for incoming executive producer Stephen Moffat to finally make good on the idea that “The Doctor could be anyone.” Continue reading

One More Go-Round: The Racialicious Heroes Roundtable Chat

Hosted By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Heroes pulled off something rare for its’ fall finale, ending its’ third storyarc with both a bang and a whimper. How bad was it? Your friendly neighborhood Roundtable members were warning me about it before it even aired on the west coast. Take this message, for instance, from Mahsino: “I just finished watching it the ‘superior way’ an hour and a half ago … um, yeah.”

Suffice to say, the episode ended up being everything she had me expecting – and less. On the bright side, it gave us a lot to talk about in our final installment of the fall, including:

* The general sense of disarray that undermined the conclusion to Volume III, “Dual”
* Our predictions for Volume IV, the much-ballyhooed “Fugitives”
* Ando’s new power and its’ potential beauty secrets
* The continuing misadventures of everybody’s favorite misfit of science, Mohinder

Arturo: Ok, here’s the thing: I got a couple of e-mails Monday night [about the episode] that didn’t sound too enthused, but I thought, “naah, it can’t be that bad.” I’m never doubting any of you *ever again*

Clara: LOL
Mahsino: if i could sum it up in one word, it would have been: meh
Erica: That’s absolutely the right word.
Clara: My short summary of the episode: eye-roll.
Arturo: I mean, even last year’s finale was sorta cool.
Mahsino: Classic Heroes:  characters of color die so that whiter, blonder, prettier characters may live.
Erica: It felt more like a “ok, we’ll just ignore all this volume and start over,” instead of the desired “exciting finale!” Continue reading

Mixed Messages: On Bi-Racial Siblings

by Special Correspondent Fatemah Fakhraie

My brother likes to push my buttons. When I bring up women’s issues, he tells me to get back to the kitchen. When I bring up Iranian culture, he cracks jokes in a fakey Middle Eastern accent.

I love him anyway.

We’re pretty close. We look alike, family members often confuse our voices on the phone, and we crack jokes to keep each other entertained when things get tense or boring. I feel very blessed to have him, and to have the relationship that we do.

Since high school, I have been striving to reconnect with my Iranian and Muslim identities; he hasn’t shown the same inclination. This isn’t to say that he’s remained the same person since high school: he and his interests have developed and evolved, but they have not done so in a direction that seeks to connect with this half of his ethnic identity. He is just as Iranian as I am in his biological makeup, but his identification doesn’t mirror mine.

Continue reading

Gran Torino and Hmong Gangs in the Midwest

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a bitter old man who’s basically the only white person left in a run-down neighborhood somewhere in the Midwest. He (reluctantly, at first) gets to know his Hmong neighbors, and ends up getting intricately involved in their lives, as they deal with issues caused by a local Hmong gang that some of their relatives are a part of.

There are plenty of things about the movie that might make for great posts on Racialicious:

1. Like most Hollywood movies that are about a community of people of color, Gran Torino features a white protagonist who not only saves the day, but also has the most layers of complexity to his personality.

2. As the first major Hollywood film about Hmong Americans, how did it do at depicting this community? Does the exposure of Hmong culture and the opportunity for Hmong actors outweigh the possible inaccuracies and negative representations? (See some of the commentary about this on AsianWeek.)

3. Clint Eastwood’s character’s constant racist remarks serve as a running joke in the movie. Just because he uses outdated and blatantly un-P.C. language with an “equal-opportunity discrimination” approach, is it OK to use this deeply offensive language as comic relief?

But I don’t really want to write about those things. I want to write about another reaction I had. Continue reading