Tag Archives: newspapers

Race + Journalism: New Data Shows Lack of Diversity in American and British Newspapers

By Arturo R. García

Newspaper stand in downtown Chicago. Image by Chris Metcalf via Flickr Creative Commons.

This week has seen two developments underscoring the lack of advancement for journalists of color in the print world — and on two continents, even.

In the U.S., as The Atlantic reported, the American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) latest study of newsroom diversity revealed a slight decline, with POC making up 12.37 percent of editorial staffers. Consider, though, that the high bar, set seven years ago, was 13.73 percent.
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The uncomprising journalistic standards of The New York Times

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Am I the only one who finds this Bill-Clinton-has-black-cred story in today’s New York Times ridiculous?

While the blogosphere and commentariat rang this weekend with angry declarations that he had crossed a line in his criticism of Barack Obama, many in Harlem seemed to mull it over, shrug their shoulders and say they understood, even if they didn’t quite agree.

“What Bill Clinton said — well, his wife is running for office,” said Tonya Burnett, who was waiting outside the building to visit a city housing office. “He’s got to represent just like she represented when he was running. I don’t think it’s such a big deal.”

To be sure, interviews conducted on a single day, in front of a single building, are apt to produce a narrow point of view. Yet the building, at 55 West 125th Street, is an important piece of real estate in Mr. Clinton’s world.

To be sure, interviewing a handful of people is largely meaningless, but we’ll still go with the headline blaring “In Harlem, Backing Up Bill Clinton.”

Just in case the story was too subtle, and you didn’t quite get the Bill-Clinton-is-blacker-than-Obama subtext, they chose to end the story on this note, emphasis mine:

Bruce Gordon, 47, had visited a notary inside the building. He said the criticisms might even sharpen Mr. Obama.

“These questions have to come up. If Obama gets the nomination, folks will ask, ‘So who are you?’ So far, he’s a nice white middle-class guy,” said Mr. Gordon, acknowledging the cheekiness of his remark with a cagey little smile. “You try to pull a black thing on Bill Clinton, he’s going to say, ‘Now wait a minute now.’ ”

The blackness olympics are on!

It’s almost as bad as the story earlier this month in the Times about how Latinos won’t vote for a black man. Cause you know, Latino and black are mutually exclusive categories. Not like there are any black Latinos, or anything.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez brilliantly broke down exactly what was wrong with that story:

The article quotes a random 20-year-old woman on the streets of Los Angeles as their only legitimate source for the headline screaming about Obama’s lack of support among Latinos, ostensibly because of his “blackness.” This is your source? Natasha Carrillo of East Los Angeles? Holy crap. Are you joking? Is this the best you can find? Why not go the CUNY, and talk to the Dominican and Puerto Rican studies experts there? Why send reporters to a freakin’ taco stand in East Los Angeles? I’ll tell you why: The story was written in the minds of the editors before it was reported; that’s why it WAS NEVER reported. It was made up. And because it was on the front of the NY Times, you are going to have pundits from coast to coast quoting it as the gospel truth, all because Natasha Carrillo, 20, of East Los Angeles, said so.

Beyond superficial debate: How can we change the way the media frames racial issues?

by guest contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Why was Don Imus vilified and fired for calling a group of young, black athletes “nappy headed hoes,” but able to return to the airwaves months later provoking barely a stir? Why is Michael Richards’ racist tirade in a Los Angeles nightclub all but forgotten? Why have these incidents, and others like the Duke University case, failed to generate any long-lasting, helpful dialogue on race in America? The Washington Post attempts to answer these questions in a thoughtful, though conservative-leaning, article entitled “Reduced to the Small Screen: Incident, Reaction, Forget, Repeat–Formulaic Entertainment Replaces Serious Discussion on Race.”

And with each episode in the long-running Saga of Race in America, a string of characters lines up to react to the latest eruption. The media records them as they take up positions in the Great Race Debate. The media stokes the discussion as self-proclaimed black leaders scream outrage while opponents — often white, sometimes black — scream counter-outrage. The “colorblind” wonder why we all just can’t get along. And the rest of us watch from ringside, rooting for one camp or another, sometimes in silence.

Then inevitably, the media turns away. The outrage fades. The talking heads go silent. The curtain falls, and the debate recedes to wherever it goes until the next eruption.

Which raises the question: Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap opera? A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere?

Are we doomed to debate racism over and over — stuck in purgatory, a cycle of skirmishes, of shock and awe, with nothing gained, nothing learned?

Or is there a way to change the ritual, to go deeper into our national consciousness and get off this merry-go-round?

I have asked myself that question often and I believe the answer is complex. The Washington Post article does a good job of tackling many of the reasons the race debate has become so superficial. Two factors that I believe play a key role in defining talk of race are 1) the way most Americans consume media and 2) the limited number of voices invited to participate in the mainstream racial discussion.

I’m a media junkie. I consume a variety of media, both mainstream (local and national TV news; local and national newspapers; political, news and cultural magazines) and alternative (blogs; progressive radio, and even though it makes my blood pressure rise, right wing radio). It helps that, as a public relations professional, I am paid to pay attention to the media.

Most people I encounter on a daily basis don’t have the time or inclination to do what I do. Most people I encounter get their information from limited sources, including a mainstream media owned by a narrow group of people–a mainstream media that is no longer The Fourth Estate, but a series of corporations operating with profit as their main mission. It is a media that courts controversy and, more than ever, believes “if it bleeds, it leads.” It is a media that traffics in stereotypes and narrows race to black and white. It is a media that doesn’t have time for nuanced and in-depth discussion about anything–not war, not healthcare, not poverty and not race. So, it is no wonder that the authors of the Washington Post article write: Continue reading

The Boston Globe highlights bloggers of color

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this great Boston Globe article about bloggers of color who are fighting racial stereotypes and getting their voices heard in the mainstream media. The reporter spoke with me, Manish from Ultrabrown, and Baratunde from Jack and Jill Politics, and name-checked a whole bunch of other blogs: Angry Asian Man, The Angry Black Woman, Guanabee, The Unapologetic Mexican, Latino Pundit, Ultrabrown, Zuky, Sepia Mutiny, The Field Negro, Too Sense, and Resist Racism. Congrats everyone! :)

Here are some excerpts:

These intellectual challenges to mainstream and other viewpoints are some of the opinions Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and black bloggers are exposing on a growing number of sites focused on social, political, and cultural issues…

These sites – many of which launched in the past year, although a few are older – have become places where people of color gather to refine ideas or form thoughts about race relations, racial inequities, and the role pop culture has in exacerbating stereotypes. The writers often bring attention to subjects not yet covered by mainstream media. Some of these blogs first sounded the alarm about blacks receiving harsher jail sentences in the court system, an issue spotlighted in the Jena Six, Genarlow Wilson, and other cases. Vij was among the bloggers writing about the racial offensiveness of the accented South Asian character Apu in “The Simpsons” just before the big-screen version of the television show came out this year…

As bloggers make these corrections, they’ve become fresh voices in the very places that they feel ignore them. The subjects they write about sometimes become mainstream media stories. Vij and bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics and Racialicious, a compendium of links and original content about race issues, have appeared on CNN, the BBC, and NPR, and in The New York Times. These young people offer alternative opinions at a time when stories about race often result in sound bites from Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson…

Posts from Jack and Jill Politics and Ultrabrown occasionally appear on Racialicious, a blog that offers links to thought-provoking news stories or blog items about race and posts on various subjects from its 25 guest contributors and three regular contributors. The New York City-based creator of Racialicious, Carmen Van Kerckhove, launched the blog in 2004 as Mixed Media Watch. Her goal, as a biracial woman of Belgian and Chinese decent, was to spotlight how the media portrays mixed-race people and interracial couples. Last year Van Kerkhove relaunched Mixed Media Watch as Racialicious, because of her readers’ strong responses to posts analyzing race and pop culture. Now in addition to posts about racism in the video game industry or recent examples of the use of the noose for racial intimidation, Racialicious includes items analyzing TV shows such as “Prison Break” and “Heroes.”

Pop culture, says Van Kerckhove, 29, “really is instrumental in shaping our view of race. It helps introduce us to and helps confirm a lot of racial stereotypes. As TV shows and movies have become more diverse in terms of the race and ethnicity of the characters and actors, I think it becomes necessary to analyze that and not to uncritically celebrate the fact that there is more diversity on TV.”

Race and Money – Michelle Singletary Calls Out Comparative Studies

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Michelle Singletary’s the Color of Money column in the Washington Post has been a must read for me for ages.

In her October 21st column, Michelle decided to tackle the issue of a financial report issued by two leading fund managers.

For 10 years, Ariel Mutual Funds and Charles Schwab have issued an annual report on the saving and investing habits of middle- and upper-income blacks.

The survey throws a spotlight on the progress of black money-management skills — or lack of progress. It also compares the investing behavior of blacks and whites.

Like many others, I’ve often found reason to comment on the results of the surveys. But now I wonder about the value of comparing the two groups. What exactly do we learn that can help change decades of economic differences? Do these surveys just perpetuate the notion that blacks aren’t taking care of business?

In a special “black paper” marking the 10th anniversary of their survey, Ariel and Schwab came to a sober conclusion. “For middle-class African-Americans,” the report said, “the march toward financial security has been an uphill journey marked by half steps, pauses and, for some, retreat. . . . The results consistently show that blacks save less than whites of similar income levels and are less comfortable with stock investing, which impedes wealth-building across generations and contributes to an impending retirement crisis in the African-American community.”

Interesting. Yet another financial crisis rocks the black community. In addition to high interest payday loans,and the subprime mortage fiasco, retirement savings spells another impending crisis for African-Americans. Or does it?

Michelle then summarizes the survey, highlighting:

This year’s Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey found that blacks had median investments of $48,000, compared with $100,000 for whites. The survey looks at blacks and whites who earn more than $50,000 annually.

When Schwab and the Chicago-based Ariel, a black-run mutual fund company, first teamed in 1998, 57 percent of blacks and 81 percent of whites said they owned individual stocks or stock mutual funds.

A decade later, that percentage still stands at 57 percent for blacks and has dropped to 76 percent for whites.

For the first time, Ariel and Schwab looked at middle- and upper-income black and white retirees. The survey found that retired blacks had a median invested savings of $73,000, compared with $210,000 for whites.

So, from the results of this survey, one would surmise that African-Americans are not saving and are putting themselves in a much more precarious position than their white counterparts. However, “one” is not Michelle Singletary. She keeps digging, focusing on one question in the report in particular: Continue reading

NYT: All fashionable Asians in the Lower East Side are non-American

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Racialicious reader Katie points us to this little gem in The New York Times that totally promotes the Asians as perpetual foreigners stereotype. Here’s what Katie says:

There’s this little piece on the fashion of Asians – apparently NOT Asian-Americans – hanging out on the Lower East Side. The verbiage is… problematic. The piece is titled “The Lower (Far) East Side,” but unless they asked for the citizenship of everyone who they photographed or interviewed for the piece, it looks like they’re lumping us all into exotic-Asian-from-a-faraway-place-with-
strange-fashion-taking-over-US.

Homophobia, racism, and queer people of color

by guest contributor sbkang, originally published at geekstew

A piece in Tuesday’s New York Times discussed the benefits and consequences that Black churches face when they make their congregations more open to LGBT folk. The article explores tensions in Black communities about the presence of gay men, lesbians, and transgender people in their churches and posits that pastors who openly accept LGBT people risk alienating more traditional congregants, to the extent that they will leave the church.

The piece hit some familiar nerves. As a queer person of color, I’m always sensitive to implied criticism in mainstream (usually White-dominated) media about the “problem” of homophobia in communities of color. The subtext of a lot of this coverage is that people of color routinely express anti-gay hatred or exclusion more than White people do, thus positioning homophobia as a problem for “them” as opposed to “us.”

The NYT article, despite some attempt to portray the issue’s complexity, pretty much reinforces this view. The piece implies a causal relationship between pastors supporting gay congregants and reduced church memberships, and even suggests, by its exclusive coverage of Black churches, that this is an issue restricted to Black folk.

This kind of coverage sets of all kinds of bells in my mind. There’s something self-satisfied about the way mainstream media generally talks about homophobia in communities of color, as if White communities all over the country don’t bear responsibility for their fair share of anti-gay bullshit. Unfortunately, this type of perspective also informs the ways some of the more prominent LGBT rights organizations work in communities of color, understandably provoking anger in those same communities. Continue reading