Tag Archives: diversity

Casting Watch: McG’s Venice-Based Romeo And Juliet Reboot

Spotted the new McG project on Deadline Hollywood:

The untitled drama, which echoes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, revolves around the haves and have-nots of California’s most seductive cities, Venice. It focuses on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice.

Curious, I checked the demographics of Venice on Wikipedia. Most recent data was from 2008:

The racial and ethnic composition in Venice is White (63.9%), Latino (22.2%), African American (5.6%), Asian (3.7%), and Other (4.6%).[5]

I suppose we can hope for inclusive casting, though we should be prepared for disappointment. Maybe this time, an interracial love story might even include a kiss.

Farewell to Asian Pop

Jeff Yang

Ouch.

Long time friend of the blog, Jeff Yang, has just lost his far reaching and influential column, Asian Pop. He writes in today’s farewell post:

So this is it, I guess: The final installment of “Asian Pop.” After nearly eight years beneath the masthead, the Gatekeepers have decided that “the economics of our business have changed in a way that doesn’t support online-only columns.” (And maybe not offline ones either: These are parlous times for the news biz.) [...]

As you might guess from its title, Asian Pop began with a focus on Asian media and entertainment, treating “Asianness” as something alien to the American experience, and “pop” as a reflection of passing fancies and ephemeral trends.

Over time, however, with the encouragement of three successive terrific editors, the column moved beyond those original boundaries, transforming Asianness from a spectacle into a perspective, and making “pop” shorthand not for popular but for populi.

Last week, I accompanied Doris Truong to drop Jeff off at the airport, one his way to a retreat to go walk up a mountain and think about things. Knowing Jeff, he will come back bursting with excitement and ready to embark on a bunch of new projects. But this decision by the powers that be to kill his column (and all other online-only long form columns) is heralding more bad business to come. I’ve been engaged in journalism work for the last two years, ever since Poynter made the decision to make me a Sense Making Fellow. In many ways, I’ve had a front seat to watching the freefall of legacy media. Diversity was one of the first values on the chopping block as expendable. Continue reading

No, *This* Is How We Get More Black People Involved in the Atheist Movement

by Guest Contributor Ian Cromwell, originally published at The Friendly Atheist

Atheism

I suppose I should say, by way of introduction, that this is something of an example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. While Hemant was on a well-deserved vacation (this daily blogging stuff ain’t easy), he had a number of members of the SSA contribute guest blogs. I took offense to one of them, and got up on my horse to shout about it. In a fit of self- aggrandizement I tweeted a link to that post to him, and then promptly went on with my life, my rage spent. Upon returning, Hemant has invited me to write this response and expand somewhat on my argument.

To summarize as succinctly as possible, Derek Miller wrote a guest post in which the basic thesis was that in order to attract more members of minority communities (particularly, in that case, African Americans – it will be to this group I refer for the remainder of this post, but there are similar barriers faced by members of other ethnic groups as well) to the secular/freethought movement, the only thing that could be done was to make the movement more friendly and welcoming in general. A sort of Field of Dreams approach to attracting members of communities of colour – if you build it, they’ll start showing up. I was a bit apoplectic because Mr. Miller has clearly not consulted with, or bothered to listen to, anyone who has been talking about this issue from the minority perspective. This kind of laissez faire approach to recruitment is doomed to fail for reasons I will explain. I’ll also offer some of my own suggestions as to what steps can be taken to more actively include people of colour (PoCs) into the freethinking discussion.

Why don’t black people come to atheist meetings?

The freethinker community has been struggling with this question of late, as more and more speakers have become sufficiently emboldened to decry the lack of ethnic diversity at things like conferences, meetup groups, and other atheist-friendly activities. Increasingly, demands have been going up for a simple answer to this question, and have not been forthcoming. This was, I think, the general thrust of Mr. Miller’s post – there are no simple solutions to this problem. It does not follow, however, that there are no solutions to the problem at all, and we must simply wait for black and brown folks to get over their shyness and start showing up. There are a number of overlapping potential explanations, and until we can begin to see them as a larger context (instead of trying to tackle them one at a time), we’ll simply be spinning our wheels.

There are a few commonly-cited explanations for why black folks just don’t seem to show up:

Atheism as a ‘white people thing’

The face of atheism is, or at least has been, a white one. It’s intimidating for a member of any visible minority community to walk into a room and be the only dark face in the crowd. Whether or not people actually are staring at you (and yes, people do stare), it’s tough to get over the feeling that you don’t fit. Many black people, particularly those in the sciences, are used to being outnumbered, and have figured out a way to deal with it. At the same time, if you’re iffy about showing up to the campus freethinker club or the skeptics in the pub event or the atheist book club, knowing that you’re going to be an outlier is certainly not a point in favour of attendance.

Atheists being racist

If I can echo a statement made by Jen McCreight, it’s not necessarily the case that atheists are more racist than the general population (my suspicion is that we do a pretty good job, by and large), but that it’s more shocking to hear racist talking points from people who pride themselves on rationality and evidence-based decision making. When race comes up as a topic, I’m often mildly amused/horrified to hear the kind of 19th-century ‘scientific racist’ slogans that come out of the mouths of my confreres. I personally have a thick skin about it, knowing that people are well-meaning but just not well-educated. My experience is perhaps a bit atypical, and it only takes a couple of bad experiences to sour the whole idea for you permanently.

Continue reading

Elements of Diversity: How Change Agents, Activists, Advocates, and Other Do-Gooders Seem to Not Get It Right After 40 Years of Trying

by Guest Contributor Hugo Najera, originally published at AmericanPupusa


I am disappointed in the still inconsistent and unfinished definition of the “D” word applied by mainstream spaces and do-gooder change agents. The word is a bad choice to describe the ideal we seek, and the most incomplete to describe the cure my social anger. “Diversity” has been tainted before I got a chance to play for the team, it’s the jersey we wear on the court, and few in the team know this.

This problem came to light when I attended “New Models in Media and Activism” sponsored by Campus Progress. The event was a panel discussion with Amanda Terkel – Senior politics reporter for The Huffington Post, Amy Austin – Publisher for Washington City Paper, Latoya Peterson – Editor of Racialicious.com, and Melinda Wittstock – Founder, CEO, and Bureau Chief of Capitol News Connection about the intersection of women, activism, and social media. The 80+ attendees comprised of about 90% 20-something white females, a sprinkle of Black females, drips of white males, and one Latino Albino (guess). The panel provided good insight, suggestions, and anecdotes on their experiences and contexts, showing a spectrum of voices from Print, Web 1.0, 1.5 to 2.0 media. The event also provided examples of the ineptitude of many change agents to grasp what diversity means in real-world situations. One panelist painfully tried to keep up with the others by saying things like “Well, that’s why women are better at getting along because we communicate better than men, which is why diversity is important” and other lovely words of wisdom. Throughout the event, audience members and moderators mostly framed issues of diversity in simple terms like getting more African Americans and women in the media. A white male student from American University correlated diversity troubles at his school with what was happening in the media, as Black candidates who run for student government president never win, asking “how can we combat that so we can be more diverse?”

Such comments assume that diversity is measured only by the number of Blacks, women, and Latinos in the room, without considering the structural reframing, process, and competencies that can make the term usable. “Diversity” as shorthand for a tally of physical bodies and archetypes is one of the major issues this term faces for validity and understanding. This incomplete definition makes whites feel apart and not responsible, targeted groups into tokens who feel responsible for carrying the burden in get-togethers, and ultimately diminishing collective knowledge. And for those who accompany the word with action, process, and competency, it annoys us when others in the choir don’t sing with the entire range of notes true diversity asks for. Continue reading

How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event

by Guest Contributor Erica Mauter, originally published at SwirlSpice

This is the companion post to the presentation I gave at SXSW Interactive on March 12, 2011.

The hashtag is #diverseevents. Search for tweets. Tweets on the whole series can also be found at #F15Diversity. Tag your posts. My slides are embedded below.

Also, Invisible Knapsack LOLcats.

It’s an honor and a privilege to present this topic at SXSW Interactive of all places. Not only is it highly relevant, SXSW is an example of an event that is doing a lot of things right.

That said, I noted a strange irony in the seriously broad range of panel topics alongside the heavy big-brand marketing presence.

Let’s also remind ourselves that most events are not only not nearly as big as SXSW, they are way smaller. A lot of the concepts still apply, but things involving costs may work very differently.

I spent less of my time on actual how-to and more on the concepts of representation and building awareness. The key words and phrases are inclusion, representation, and structural barriers to participation. It’s really hard to distill the concept of privilege and oppression down to a 12-minute presentation, much less further apply it to why various groups are or aren’t represented at tech conferences of all sizes. But it’s critical to the conversation, so I did my best.

I can give you pages of ideas for outreach, but if you aren’t aware of the social forces behind all of it and aren’t willing to truly re-think how you go about things then no progress can be made. A conference is a manufactured environment; it necessarily reflects the ideology of the creator. Understand that some may reject that framework in favor of their own or none at all.

As promised here are some further resources specifically addressing how to increase representation of marginalized groups at your tech event.

Representation

The following posts address the topic of representation at conferences. Each one of them has a bulleted list of tips and hints.

Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognonvi – Top 4 Mistakes Meeting Planners Avoid If They Want Diversity and Inclusion at Their Next Conference

Savvy meeting planners carefully sculpt both their advertising and their agendas to appeal to a culturally diverse population. But far too many planners still don’t understand the fundamentals of culturally-sensitive hosting.

Here, then, are the four biggest mistakes meeting planners should avoid, followed by their more appealing and appropriate counterparts. Continue reading

My God, it’s Full of Internets

by Guest Contributor Christina Xu, originally published at Spread Too Thin

Editor’s Note: Christina Xu is one of the organizers of ROFLCon, a convention dedicated to exploring internet culture and memes. Before SXSW, she took the time to write about diversity and conference planning from an organizer’s perspective. – LDP

In a week, I will join my dear friends Tim Hwang and Diana Kimball in front of a panel at SXSW, where we’ll be speaking on the experience of organizing this crazy business we call ROFLCon. Like the conference itself, it’ll be part silly, heartwarming celebration and part serious introspection and discussion. And I (gladly! wholeheartedly!) signed up to talk about the only harsh criticism in a sea of loving responses to our creation:

ROFLCon Diversity

First, a warning: this post is going to be long, and it is going to be more full of Real Talk than R. Kelly.

There are three important things to know about the beginning of ROFLCon.

    1. I was 19 (Tim and Diana were 20) and not yet very hip to race or gender issues (see previous blogpost and below).
    2. ROFLCon was intensely personal; to make our first guestlist, Tim and I literally just wrote down everything we’ve ever LOLed at on the internet that we grew up on: Something Awful, GameFAQs, 4chan, YTMND. Places that are predominantly (and aggressively) white, male geeks. There are thousands of other sides of the internet; we picked this one out of personal nostalgia.
    3. ROFLCon became intentional SLOWLY and not of our own accord. In the bootstrappy beginning, we took anyone that we could get. We dreamed and worked ROFLCon into reality without any idea that it would become an institution of sorts. In other words, we had no idea that our choices would be scrutinized as political missteps, that we would somehow become arbiters of who should or shouldn’t be included in internet culture.

None of these are meant as excuses. They’re just to explain how a staff that was 43% female and 29% people of color could put together a conference with a tiny on-stage presence of either. I suspect this is the story with other conferences and endeavors of love, as well. We should have realized that being the first big, even vaguely serious conference about internet culture was not just a breakthrough, it was a responsibility. But at the same time, how could we have? Continue reading

Are We Willing to Give Up Netflix/The Open Web for Minority Focused TV?

by Latoya Peterson


The FCC is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a huge merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, which would create a new media mega-corporation.  This has brought quite a bit of controversy over the future of the web, with many digital justice activists protesting the increase of corporate control over the web.

Angry Asian Man reports on an unexpected silver lining: the FCC has proposed that Comcast and NBC must improve diversity if they are going to complete the deal, to ensure minority broadcasters are not left out.  According to ABC News:

Public interest groups have urged the Obama administration to reject the deal. They fear Comcast might charge other cable distributors higher fees to transmit NBC Universal-owned content, leading to higher cable bills, fewer independent programing choices and less competition.

Comcast said in agreements filed with the FCC that it would add four new cable networks either owned or partly owned by African-Americans within eight years if the deal goes through.

It would also expand an existing channel carrying Asian-American programing to more markets, or create a new English-language channel that caters to Asian-American interests.

More diversity on major networks is definitely something to celebrate, but I’m not so sure this is the major step forward as some are quick to claim.

Most of what I’ve heard about the merger has been from the net neutrality aspect.  Back in August, Colorlines broke down why it was so important to keep an eye on Comcast:

The fight started because those scary scenarios about blocking and slowing traffic aren’t merely speculative. In 2005, Comcast blocked its users from sharing BitTorrents, which are popular ways to send and receive large files. The company claimed that it was preventing its users from committing copyright infringement, since the file-sharing platforms are often associated with quick and easy ways to get free music and movies. Continue reading

Senator Jim Webb Aruges Against Affirmative Action, Says It Does Not Benefit Blacks

by Latoya Peterson
good is not enough cover
White privilege is a myth? Do tell…

In Jim Webb’s latest op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (titled “Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege“), he turns the traditional narrative for ending affirmative action on its head. Instead of using the same old racist platitudes, the Democrat from Virgina uses history and acknowledgment of structural inequality to propose a radical rethinking of government programs. But check the bait Webb uses:

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America’s economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

My, my, my. Webb’s op-ed makes some very astute points but also trades on the idea that race is a zero-sum game. For this reason, the piece both succeeds and fails. Continue reading