Tag: racial injustice

10 Books Besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ That Tackle Racial Injustice | PBS NewsHour

When the PBS NewsHour asked educators from different parts of the country to share their picks for some alternatives, they offered books that shift the perspective from a white girl’s point of view to people of color. The stories, many of them more contemporary than “To Kill A Mockingbird,” tackle the multitude of ways racism affects different marginalized groups in the U.S.

“Our most popular books are ‘Dear Martin,’ ‘I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,’ ‘The Book of Unknown Americans,’ and ‘The Hate U Give,’” wrote in Cicely Lewis, a library media specialist in Georgia who created a list of books she calls #ReadWoke. “They all have characters who look like my students and face issues plaguing our society. There’s a waiting list for these titles.”

In their own words, educators select 12 books, including a popular nonfiction pick, that are great reads and help continue the discussion around racial injustice in school and in life.

The overall top pick: Angie Thomas novels

“The Hate U Give” is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It takes up issues of racial injustice and identity, both of which resonate with many students — and it feels particularly timely in the wake of countless police shootings of unarmed black men and women. One of my students said she thinks this is a book everyone should read, and I agree. It also models for students how they can stand up and speak out against injustice.

— Adison Godfrey, English teacher in Pennsylvania

I would like to nominate Angie Thomas’ book, On the Come Up.” The main character Brianna faces an unjust suspension when a rogue white officer body slams her to the floor in retaliation to a search and seizure shake-down upon entering the metal detectors at her school. This mimics incidents that made national news about white officers body-slamming girls in class.

It sheds light on the skewed suspension of more students of color. More importantly, it shows the youthful response to the archaic mindset of prejudice that keeps black Americans stuck in a post-slavery, Jim-Crow America. Using social media to spur on the injustice of treatment — the same way television was used during the 1960s civil rights movement when white and black freedom riders were beaten.

— Jean Darnell, high school librarian in Houston @awakenlibrarian on Twitter

Read more via 10 books besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that tackle racial injustice | PBS NewsHour

Jay Z and Weinstein Co. to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series

Trayvon Martin (photo via variety.com)

article by Justin Kroll and Brent Lang via variety.com

Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and the Weinstein Company are partnering on an ambitious series of film and television projects about Trayvon Martin.  The indie label and the rap icon won a heated bidding war for the rights to two books — “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It” and “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.” The 2012 shooting of the 17 year-old Martin sparked a national debate about racial profiling and inequities of the criminal justice system that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The African-American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, 28, who was a member of the neighborhood watch in his Florida community. He claimed he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self defense after the two became involved in a physical altercation. Zimmerman’s acquittal on a second-degree murder charge inspired protests around the country.

“Suspicion Nation” is by Lisa Bloom and recounts her experience covering the trial for NBC. She looks at the mistakes made by prosecutors that caused them to lose what she describes as a “winnable case.” “Rest in Power” is by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. It tells a more personal story, looking at Martin’s childhood and the aftermath of his death.

The plan is to make a six-part docu-series with Jay Z producing as part of a first-look deal he signed with the studio last September. The indie studio will also develop a narrative feature film. The Weinstein Company earned critical raves for “Fruitvale Station,” another true story, about the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer.

To read more: Jay Z to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series | Variety

Harvard Sociologist William Julius Wilson Leads $10 Million Study of Racial Inequality at Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research

Hutchins Center at Harvard (photo via newsone.com)
Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard (photo via newsone.com)

article via cnbc.com

U.S. policymakers need comprehensive, unbiased research if they are to adequately address America’s racial inequality, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson told CNBC on Thursday.

William Julius Wilson (photo via sociology.fas.harvard.edu)
William Julius Wilson (photo via sociology.fas.harvard.edu)

Wilson’s call for research follows two years of political unrest that have swept the nation following controversies, such as the fatal police shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in Minnesota and the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

“People have been exposed to multiple and reinforcing hardships — racial hardships and economic hardships,” Wilson told “Squawk Box.”“What we hope to do is to analyze these problems at once.”

Wilson is currently leading “Multidimensional Inequality in the 21st Century: the Project on Race and Cumulative Adversity,” a study of poverty, crime, housing and homelessness funded by a $10 million grant from the Hutchins Family Foundation.

“Our goal is to provide information to policymakers who want to make good decisions,” said Wilson. “If they have the information, we can decide how to attack the problem.”

Glenn Hutchins, chairman of North Island — the investment firm that manages his personal wealth — is also the benefactor of Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Hutchins echoed Wilson comments, telling CNBC in the same interview: “We have the opportunity to do non-ideological, evidence-based policy making.”

The study would provide direction amid the country’s tumultuous political climate, said Hutchins, a former Bill Clinton advisor and co-founder of technology investment powerhouse Silver Lake Partners.

Hutchins hopes his family foundation’s grant will ensure that Wilson and his colleagues can “create the type of policies that can pragmatically get at this complex problem.”

To see video and read more, go to: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/06/new-10-million-harvard-study-to-investigate-racial-hardships.html

United Nations Panel Issues Report Stating U.S. Owes Black People Reparations

Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014
Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014. (EVERT ELZINGA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

article by Monique Judge via theroot.com

Colonial history, a legacy of enslavement and segregation are among the chief reasons reparations are owed to African Americans, according to a report put out by a United Nations group (pdf).

The U.N.’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, which reports to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, presented its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday, the Washington Post reports.

The panel, which visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission in January, wrote in a statement that it was “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans,” stating that there has been no real commitment to reparations, truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.

Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.

The panel likened the pattern of police officers killing unarmed black men to lynching, which it referred to as a form of “racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the US must address.”

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the panel wrote.

The panel also noted that African Americans are disproportionately affected by “tough on crime policies,” mass incarceration, and racial bias and disparities in the criminal-justice system.

During this country visit, the experts observed the excessive control and supervision targeting all levels of their life. This control since September 2001, has been reinforced by the introduction of the Patriot Act. We heard testimonies from African Americans based on their experience that people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence.

The panel laid out recommendations for the U.S. to assist in “its efforts to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, and related intolerance,” which included the “profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.”

“Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice,” the panel wrote.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/09/u-n-panel-says-the-u-s-owes-black-people-reparations/

Georgetown University Commits to Addressing Racial Injustice, Establishing African-American Studies Dept.

georgetown university logo

article via jbhe.com

John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., made a major commitment to address racial issues on campus. Last fall students staged a sit-in outside the president’s office demanding the university address its past ties to slavery, increase the number of Black faculty on campus, and begin an ongoing and discussion of racial issues confronting the university.

President DeGioia stated that the university would create a major in African American studies and create an academic department in the field or a larger interdisciplinary program in the discipline. He also said that the university would establish a new research center “focused on racial injustice and the persistent and enduring legacy of racism and segregation in the American experience.” He vowed to recruit an appropriate number of faculty members to support the research center and African American studies initiative and to hire a new senior executive to oversee these programs.

RELATED:  Georgetown University Renames Two Buildings on Campus That Honored Men with Ties to Slavery

“I hope to encourage all of us to pick up the pace – to commit to a more energized effort to address what has been the besetting conflict – evil – of our American society – racial injustice,” DeGioia said in an address to the university community. “For a place like Georgetown, it is of special importance for us to recognize this history – to recognize its implications for our nation and our responsibilities to one another.”

Google Donates $2.4 Million in Fight Against Racial Injustice

The Paley Center For Media & Google Present 'Cracking the Code: Diversity, Hollywood & STEM' At Google

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the internet giant, has announced plans to dedicate $2.35 million in grants to community organizations combatting racial injustice in the U.S., according to USA Today.

The announcement came Tuesday during a screening of 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, the report says. The film examines the shooting death of Jordan Davis, 17, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed in 2012 by a White man, Michael Dunn, outside of a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. for playing music too loud in a vehicle.

The grant program is part of a “larger giving effort over the course of the next year.” Via USA Today:

The technology giant’s philanthropic arm chose organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area taking on systemic racism in America’s criminal justice, prison and educational systems, says Justin Steele, who leads Google.org’s Bay Area giving efforts.

Steele says the grants are just the first for Google.org as it seeks to address the Bay Area’s growing economic gap that has only widened during the technology boom.

“We hope to build on this work and contribute to this movement for racial justice,” Steele said in an interview.

Google.org’s decision comes after the Mountain View, California tech giant announced plans this spring to recruit more women and people of color into one of the best paid growth industries in the nation.

Under the ambitious $150 million recruitment plan, half of the money is for outside organizations and communities to train and hire people of color, while the other half will be used on internal diversity efforts.

The changes did not come without pressure. For over a year, civil rights leaders called on Google and other tech companies to diversify their ranks at a time of high unemployment in communities of color.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Will Smith and Jay Z To Produce HBO Mini-Series About Emmett Till

Will Smith and Jay Z found success when they signed on as producers for the Broadway musical Fela, and now the two will team up again to produce an HBO mini series about Emmett Till.

Entertainment Weekly reports the two, along with Jay Brown, James Lassiter, and Aaron Kaplan are executive producing the untitled mini series. Till was a 14 year-old from Chicago sent to spend the summer in Mississippi. One evening, Till was kidnapped from his bedroom and savagely beaten by white men because he whistled at a white woman. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie had an open casket to showcase the brutality of her son’s death.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the men responsible for Till murder, were found not guilty of their crimes, but later publicly admitted their involvment. Currently there are no writers for the mini series or an expected release date.

Earlier this year, famed film critic Roger Ebert‘s widow, Chaz Ebert, announced her own Emmett Till project.  We are not sure if both these Till projects will see the light of day, but we certainly hope so.  The more the history of African Americans is explored, and this particular turning point in the early struggle for racial justice and civil rights, the better.

Obama Speaks Out on Racism in America on “WTF with Marc Maron” Podcast

150622084956-01-obama-maron-exlarge-169
President Obama appears on “WTF With Marc Maron”

This morning I woke up to a barrage of news outlets with one similar statement: The President used the N -Word! Okay…what was this going to be? What’s with that blaring headline? I did my research and vetted the context. And in this case if there were ever a time for the President of the United States to use the word… this made sense.

Released today, President Barack Obama appears on “WTF with Marc Maron”, a popular podcast hosted by comedian Marc Maron.  During the interview they touched on Obama’s own struggles with identity, the racially-motivated shootings at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, guns and our seemingly unsolvable societal plights.  Obama was completely at ease with the humbly likeable Maron, so sitting in his garage/office, Obama chose to make a big point about racism. The President is often so careful and guarded with his use of words regarding the subject – who can blame him…I guess? He’s a politician and has to walk a fine line. But I think in that garage in those moments with Maron he was done being politically correct regarding blatant racism in America and I liked this Obama. Hopefully people will hear his explanation of endemic racism that has caused centuries of pain and wounds that may never close.  I’m not saying he’s come up with a solution, but it is certainly an interesting and refreshing way to hear him speak.  His use of the N-word attempts to challenge Americans to wake up and do better.  Here are the most notable quotes from the President on racism:

I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you’ve lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ’60s or ’70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours.

The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination exists in institutions and casts “a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on.”

Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n—– in public… That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.

To hear the podcast in its entirety, click here: http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_613_-_president_barack_obama

If you want to see Marc Meets Obama photos, click here: http://marcmeetsobama.com

Image 2
article by Lesa Lakin

West Virginia University Receives Donation of Artwork Depicting Racial Injustice

Jacob_Lawrence_Confrontation_at_the_Bridge

Harvey and Jennifer Peyton are donating a series of paintings to the Art Museum of West Virginia University that deal with racial injustice in the 1930s to the 1960s.

Among the works donated is “Confrontation at the Bridge,” a painting by Jacob Lawrence of marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday in March 1965. Other works include “Waiting Room, South” by Rosalee Berkowitz, ” Lynching (Self-Portrait With Rope)” by Louis Lozowick, and “Bessie Smith, Queen of the Blues” by Margaret Burroughs.

Harvey Peyton holds bachelor’s and law degrees from West Virginia University. He stated that “Jen and I have dedicated our collecting to the idea that visual art and the concept of social justice should go hand in hand. We hope these works, and other we have given and intend to give to the Art Museum of WVU, will enrich the idea of both art and community at the university long after we are gone.”

article via jbhe.com