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.
This has appeared around the ‘net in the last couple days:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4DT3tQqgRM&w=475]If the video does not appear, you may need to download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
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.”
We get a lot of bookish news and links from librarian Betsy Bird’s blog, A Fuse #8 Production, and its Fusenews collections of literary links. This week, she brought us a couple stories of covers that we’re happy to pass along. First, we have the cover to PW’s Trends in African-American Publishing issue causing a bit of controversy. Frolab looks at the arguments and asks us to Pick Fros Not Fights!. Second, she leads us to Stacked, where they’re taking a look at a different sort of diversity—or lack thereof— on covers: Where have all the fat girls gone? “Think about all of the covers you see: they’re ALL thin. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. Even if the book doesn’t talk about the weight or shape of a character, the cover makes him/her thin.” Well, not every cover, but she’s got a point.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIIM0VVk_sg&w=475]If the video does not appear, you may need to download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
There are four more segments, but I think we all know how it’s going to go: the (already) beautiful Indian woman will use the Magical Whitening Cream, gaining a “pinkish white glow”; the European woman will reveal her inner petty, jealous self; the Indian woman’s new, whiter skin will re-catch the man’s eye, and they will be passionately reunited. In an airport.
Welcome to winter! I know, according to the calendar winter doesn’t start for another week and a half, but the weather says it’s winter. So let’s curl up by the fire, roast some chestnuts, and talk diversity.
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on some new films depicting African Americans. We start out with Precious: is it a harsh but realistic portrayal of issues too-often found in poor black communities, or is it a racist depiction of black Americans, relying on stale clichés and taking advantage of the people and situations it pretends to help? David Schmader explains why he likes it and then highlights the arguments of those who don’t.
I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as I did! Now, we’re back with another batch of diversity-related links.
Last month’s job report was an improvement, but the recession is still keeping employment just a dream for many. Also keeping dreams of employment from becoming reality? Race, even now. The New York Times brings us an exploration of the difficulties faced by even college educated African Americans. Postbourgie responds with some points on the issues faced by college educated professional black women, and the unfortunate tendency to assume that black men’s experiences are representative of all black people.
This week is Thanksgiving! There’s lots to love about this holiday, and some of it doesn’t even have to do with food (although…pies! stuffing! MORE PIES!).
Thanksgiving is also a great opportunity for teaching and discussion. I know sometimes people have an adverse reaction to that–something like “Stop trying to make my holiday traditions politically correct!”–but so much of the Thanksgiving story is still relevant today. I like thinking about Thanksgiving as a celebration of a history that is still being written, a history that we can take an active part in.
On that note, Fourth World Journal points to a new teaching resource for Thanksgiving developed by a teacher and historian whose ancestors happen to be Quebeque French, Metis, Ojibwa, and Iroquois. He suggests that it’s time to move past some of the myths surrounding Thanksgiving towards historical accuracy, and insists that this will make the holiday more, not less, meaningful. I especially like some of the discussion questions, like this one: