Welcome to Black History Month!
Heritage Months have their bad sides and good sides, but we’re starting out this week’s linkup with one of the good things to come out of Black History Month: The Brown Bookshelf‘s Twenty-Eight Days Later project, highlighting a Black children’s book author or illustrator every day in February. Check their blog for great contributors to the field. Today they’re talking with one of our own authors, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. Shadra Strickalnd, Tony Medina, and Christine Taylor-Butler will be featured later in the month.
This week we bring you another humorous look at race relations in the US: [vodpod id=Video.2542712&w=425&h=350&fv=]
It’s bitterly cold outside (at least here in New York), so stay inside and read! Here’s this week’s selection of articles and essays.
Last month we shared an Indian ad for White Beauty, a skin-lightening cream. Now, a study is highlighting the dangers of these types of products, many of which contain steroids or mercury. A NYTimes Op-Ed looks beyond the products and into the roots of their popularity with an exploration of colorism, the tendency to be biased towards people with lighter skin, even within one’s own racial or ethnic group.
It’s a couple years old (Bush was president, remember those years?), but Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani still hits several nails on the head when talking about being Middle Eastern in America:
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Gregory Brothers created a musical remix of his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before his assassination in April 1968.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Haiti, and those with family or friends there. Remember when giving to relief efforts that only nonprofits who already have operations in Haiti are situated to give immediate assistance. Aid Watch brings an explanation of why this is the case and suggestions for how to respond, and the U.S. State department is offering a super-easy way to donate: “text ‘HAITI’ to ‘90999’ and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.” Via Ta-Nahisi Coates, Haitian American Evan Narcisse writes about what Haiti means to him, and about its role as the first black republic and fusion of art forms that makes it an amazing place.
A CNN report looks at the success of Asian American students in high school:
There are a few good things it brings up, in addition to looking at nurture (culture, parental influence) instead of just nature (genetics, biology), like the fact that test-taking and intelligence aren’t perfectly correlated. Perhaps most importantly, it points out the vast diversity with the group we call “Asian American”; Asia is huge, and Asian Americans come from a variety of cultures with their own expectations, priorities, and assumptions. It’s a helpful reminder that labels tell part of the story but never the whole story.
Welcome back! We’re still getting used to writing “2010” instead of “2009,” but it’s time for the year’s inaugural issue of This Week in Diversity.
Harlem and its demographic shifts have been the talk of the town lately, starting with a NYTimes piece, “No Longer Majority Black, Harlem Is in Transition,” looking at Harlem’s history from 1910 through recent changes. That’s followed by “#gentrification,” in which a former urban planner for Manhattan Community Board 10—Harlem, basically—talks about Harlem in the ’90s, the difference between the neighborhood of Harlem and the idea of Harlem, and the good side of gentrification. Ta-Nahisi Coates agrees, and goes on to discuss African Americans deciding how and where to live.
Here’s a great look at the portrayal of Native Americans in classic Hollywood movies:
They do a great job highlighting the portrayal of American Indians as violent, uncivilized, and animalistic, and the effect that has on Native American moviegoers. I did notice, though, that all the movies they showed were fairly old, and that such blatant racist rhetoric would have a harder time now. But does that mean the problem has actually gone away, or has Hollywood just stopped portraying Indians at all, negatively or positively? Or have more subtle, insidious stereotypes slipped in to take the place of what we see here?
This has appeared around the ‘net in the last couple days:
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HP’s response partially explains what’s going on: “The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.”