Social justice activist, author, and founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, will be delivering a keynote address at Facing Race 2018in Detroit, Michigan.
Facing Race is a national conference presented by leading racial justice organization and Colorlines publisher, Race Forward. The 2018 conference will be held at Detroit’s Cobo Center from November 8-10.
Burke, who was recently named by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2018,” is the first of two keynote speakers to be announced for the Detroit conference. As the largest conference for multiracial justice movement-making, Facing Race Detroit will serve as a unique, collaborative, and essential space for alliance building, issue-framing, and advancing solutions during a critical moment in our nation’s history.
Burke first used the phrase “Me Too” in 2006 as a means of providing strength and healing to young women of color. Her upcoming memoir, set to be released in Spring 2019, will explain the necessity of #MeToo while also detailing her own journey from victim to survivor to thriver.
“So often today, conversations about race, class, and gender exist in silos, and the truth is that the potential for change lives at the intersection of all,” said Burke who currently serves as Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity. “I’m thrilled to be part of a space that is intentionally multiracial and multigender as we envision a meaningfully inclusive society.
“Tarana Burke has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to the intersection of social justice issues, and has laid the groundwork for an international movement that inspires solidarity,” said Race Forward President Glenn Harris. “We’re elated and honored that she will be sharing her words of wisdom, inspiration, and power building with the thousands of Facing Race attendees.”
In addition to inspiring speakers, film screenings, and networking opportunities, Facing Race will present over 80 panels and breakout sessions on a wide array of key issues, with a focus on four key tracks:
Arts, Media, & Culture
Organizing and Advocacy
Racial Identities and Innovation
Since Facing Race was created in 2004, Race Forward has held the national conference in cities around the country, working together with local racial justice leaders to lift up regional history and current challenges faced by communities of color. Previous speakers have included Jose Antonio Vargas, Roxane Gay, Melissa Harris Perry, Van Jones, and W. Kamau Bell.
UPDATE (11/15/16): West Virginia Mayor Beverly Whaling has resigned. WSAZ News reportedly received confirmation that Whaling has submitted an official resignation letter, following the fallout from her comments on a racially offensive Facebook post, in which Clay County Corporation Director Pamela Ramsey Taylor referred to First Lady Michelle Obama as “an ape in heels.”
Clay County Development Corporation Executive Pamela Ramsey Taylor hurled words of blatant disrespect and disregard for First Lady Michelle Obama in a racist Facebook post, where she referred to FLOTUS as “an ape in heels.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling agreed with Taylor’s racially offensive statement, commenting on the original post, “Just made my day, Pam.”
BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP National President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement regarding the results of the 2016 presidential election:
“Even as we extend our congratulations to President-Elect Donald J. Trump, the NAACP, as America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, must bluntly note that the 2016 campaign has regularized racism, standardized anti-Semitism, de-exceptionalized xenophobia and mainstreamed misogyny. Voter suppression, as the courts have declared, has too become rampant and routine.
From the day that General George Washington accepted the people’s charge to become their first commander-in-chief, to the day that we elected Barack Obama as our country’s first African-American president, America has come together to ensure a peaceful transition of power. This most recent presidential election must meet this distinctly American standard. President-Elect Trump’s victory speech avoided a divisive tone and thus invoked this standard.
During this critical period of transition, we are now calling upon the next president to speak and act with the moral clarity necessary to silence the dog-whistle racial politics that have characterized recent months and have left many of our fellow citizens snarling at one another in anger and even whimpering in fear. The more than 120 million Americans who cast ballots in this election – as well as the more than 100 million more eligible voters who declined to vote – deserve no less.
The NAACP stands ready to work with a new administration to realize the racial justice concerns that not only compelled millions of people to go to the polls on Election Day but also inspired millions to protest in the streets in the preceding days and months. Depending upon the new administration’s fidelity to America’s ideals of liberty and the NAACP’s agenda for justice, we will either be at its side or in its face. We will not let this election distract or dissuade us; the NAACP will continue to stand strong at the frontlines, advocating for voting rights, criminal justice reform and equality for all.
This election comes as a surprise to many, an affirmation to some and a rejection to others, and yet it is also a defining moment for the NAACP and the nation. Let us come together as a country – come together with the principled and practical unity that the needs of our nation and the need to govern demand.
Our beauty as a country shines brighter than the ugliness of this election. It is up to all of us to reveal the beauty of who we are as a people as we yet see the possibilities of the nation we can become.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and its six “Game Changer” issue areas here.
Yesterday I was tagged in a post by an old high school friend, asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled not only to publish his query but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a handful of folks on Facebook.
Here’s his post:
“To all of my Black or mixed race FB friends, I must profess a blissful ignorance of this “White Privilege” of which I’m apparently guilty of possessing. By not being able to fully put myself in the shoes of someone from a background/race/religion/gender/ nationality/body type that differs from my own makes me part of the problem, according to what I’m now hearing. Despite my treating everyone with respect and humor my entire life (as far as I know), I’m somehow complicit in the misfortune of others. I’m not saying I’m colorblind, but whatever racism/sexism/other -ism my life experience has instilled in me stays within me, and is not manifested in the way I treat others (which is not the case with far too many, I know).
So that I may be enlightened, can you please share with me some examples of institutional racism that have made an indelible mark upon you? If I am to understand this, I need people I know personally to show me how I’m missing what’s going on. Personal examples only. I’m not trying to be insensitive, I only want to understand (but not from the media). I apologize if this comes off as crass or offends anyone.”
Here’s my response:
Hi, Jason. First off, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve quoted your post and made it part of mine. I think the heart of what you’ve asked of your friends of color is extremely important and I think my response needs much more space than as a reply on your feed. I truly thank you for wanting to understand what you are having a hard time understanding. Coincidentally, over the last few days I have been thinking about sharing some of the incidents of prejudice/racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime – in fact I just spoke with my sister Lesa about how to best do this yesterday – because I realized many of my friends – especially the white ones – have no idea what I’ve experienced/dealt with unless they were present (and aware) when it happened. There are two reasons for this : 1) because not only as a human being do I suppress the painful and uncomfortable in an effort to make it go away, I was also taught within my community (I was raised in the ‘70s & ‘80s – it’s shifted somewhat now) and by society at large NOT to make a fuss, speak out, or rock the boat. To just “deal with it,” lest more trouble follow (which sadly, it often does). 2) Fear of being questioned or dismissed with “Are you sure that’s what you heard?” or “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” and being angered and upset all over again by well-meaning-but-hurtful and essentially unsupportive responses.
So, again, I’m glad you asked, because I really want to answer. But as I do, please know a few things first: 1) This is not even close to the whole list. I’m cherrypicking because none of us have all day. 2) I’ve been really lucky. Most of what I share below is mild compared to what others in my family and community have endured. 3) I’m going to go in chronological order so you might begin to glimpse the tonnage and why what many white folks might feel is a “Where did all of this come from?” moment in society has been festering individually and collectively for the LIFETIME of pretty much every black or brown person living in America today regardless of wealth or opportunity. 4)Some of what I share covers sexism, too – intersectionality is another term I’m sure you’ve heard and want to put quotes around, but it’s a real thing, too, just like white privilege. But you’ve requested a focus on personal experiences with racism, so here it goes:
1. When I was 3, my family moved into an upper-middle class, all-white neighborhood. We had a big backyard, so my parents built a pool. Not the only pool on the block, but the only one neighborhood boys started throwing rocks into. White boys. One day my mom ID’d one as the boy from across the street, went to his house, told his mother and fortunately, his mother believed mine. My mom not only got an apology, but also had that boy jump in our pool and retrieve every single rock. No more rocks after that. Then Mom even invited him to come over to swim sometime if he asked permission. Everyone became friends. This one has a happy ending because my mom was and is badass about matters like these, but I hope you can see that the white privilege in this situation isbeing able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.
2. When my older sister was 5, a white boy named Mark called her a “nigger” after she beat him in a race at school. She didn’t know what it meant but in her gut, she knew it was bad. This was the first time I’d seen my father the kind of angry that has nowhere to go. I somehow understood it was because not only had some boy verbally assaulted his daughter and had gotten away with it, it had way too early introduced her (and me) to that term and the reality of what it meant – that some white people would be cruel and careless with black people’s feelings just because of our skin color. Or our achievement. If it’s unclear in any way, the point here is if you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.
3. Sophomore year of high school. I had Mr. Melrose for Algebra 2. Some time within the first few weeks of class, he points out that I’m “the only spook” in the class. This was meant to be funny. It wasn’t. So, I doubt it will surprise you I was relieved when he took medical leave after suffering a heart attack and was replaced by a sub for the rest of the semester. The point here is if you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation – you have white privilege.
4. When we started getting our college acceptances senior year, I remember some white male classmates pissed that another black classmate had gotten into UCLA while they didn’t. They said that affirmative action had given him “their spot” and it wasn’t fair. An actual friend of theirs. Who’d worked his ass off. The point here is if you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’veachieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it” – that is white privilege.
5. When I got accepted to Harvard (as a fellow AP student you were witness to what an academic beast I was in high school, yes?), three separate times I encountered white strangers as I prepped for my maiden trip to Cambridge that rankle to this day. The first was the white doctor giving me a physical at Kaiser: Me: “I need to send an immunization report to my college so I can matriculate.” Doctor: “Where are you going?” Me: “Harvard.” Doctor: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” The second was in a store, looking for supplies I needed from Harvard’s suggested “what to bring with you” list. Store employee: “Where are you going?” Me: “Harvard.” Store employee: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” The third was at UPS, shipping off boxes of said “what to bring” to Harvard. I was in line behind a white boy mailing boxes to Princeton, and in front of a white woman sending her child’s boxes to wherever. Woman, to the boy: “What college are you going to?” Boy: “Princeton.” Woman: “Congratulations!” Woman, to me: “Where are you sending your boxes?” Me: “Harvard.” Woman: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” I think: “No bitch, the one downtown next to the liquor store.” But I say, gesturing to my LABELED boxes: “Yes, the one in Massachusetts.” Then she says congratulations but it’s too fucking late. The point here is if no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, that is white privilege.Continue reading “EDITORIAL: What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege”→
In an unusually public flare-up, one of MSNBC’s television personalities clashed with the network on Friday in a dispute about airtime and editorial freedom and said she was refusing to host the show that bears her name this weekend.
The host, Melissa Harris-Perry, wrote in an email to co-workers this week that her show had effectively been taken away from her and that she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives, who are restructuring MSNBC.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in the email, which became public on Friday. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
In a phone interview, Ms. Harris-Perry confirmed she would not appear on the show this weekend. She said she had received no word about whether her show, which runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays, had been canceled, but said she was frustrated that her time slot had faced pre-emptions for coverage of the presidential election. She said she had not appeared on the network at all “for weeks” and that she was mostly sidelined during recent election coverage in South Carolina and New Hampshire. (She was asked to return this weekend.)
In her email, Ms. Harris-Perry wrote that she was not sure if the NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, or Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, were involved in the way her show was handled recently, but she directed blame toward both.
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote. “I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
For those who grew up in the 1980s, Public Enemy was one of a handful of nationally-known hip-hop acts that created socially-conscious rap almost exclusively. From “Don’t Believe The Hype” to “Fight The Power” (from Spike Lee‘s still-all-too-relevant movie about racism and police brutality Do The Right Thing) to “By The Time I Get To Arizona”, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the crew were on the forefront of calling out media manipulation, systemic racism and bigotry, and the widespread mistreatment of black people in America.
Now, over 30 years after they’ve formed and three years since their last album, Public Enemy has released Man Plans God Laughs, offering much-needed and necessary protest music once again. The video for the single “No Sympathy From The Devil” was just released today, and it packs a chilling punch. It ties historical acts of racism with the racism of today – and so much of it looks the same (at the 1:56 mark, Sandra Bland‘s mug shot appears and has the effect of a gut punch).
The entire album, which was released a few weeks ago on July 15, can be heard on Spotify:
Pearl Thompson was a student at Shaw University in 1942 when she walked over to a public library in Raleigh, N.C., to check out a book she was assigned to read for class.
But instead of issuing a library card to Thompson and allowing her to check out the book, the library staff at the Olivia Raney Library—a library intended only for whites at the time—sent Thompson to the basement and told her that she had to read the book there and couldn’t take it out of the library.
More than 70 years later, Thompson, now 93, is being honored in Raleigh, N.C., as a lifelong educator, and she has made it a point to return to get the library card that was denied her so long ago.
Thompson told the News & Observer that she knew that the Olivia Raney Library, Raleigh’s first public library, was only for white patrons, but she was on a mission to get the book that she needed.
“I expected to go in and get a book,” Thompson said.
That thirst for knowledge and determination to break down racial barriers in educational spaces stayed with her. Thompson went on to teach in Raleigh’s segregated black schools for more than a decade. In an emotional video showing the Raleigh event that honored her work, Thompson described how she vowed that she would work hard to give children opportunities to learn, and to expose them to the resources they would need to succeed.
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.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued sweeping sanctions against Donald Sterling on Tuesday in response to controversial remarks about blacks purportedly made by Sterling. Silver said the Clippers owner was fined $2.5 million and was banned from any association with the team for life. Silver added that he would urge other owners to force a sale of the team.
Silver said the lifetime ban would stand regardless of whether Sterling was ultimately forced to sell the team he’s owned for 33 years. The commissioner said the NBA constitution allowed owners to eject Sterling if three-quarters of the owners voted in favor of such a move, and that he would commence the process of expulsion immediately.
“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” said Silver, who appeared visibly agitated throughout his remarks.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted his support, saying he agreed “100%” with Silver’s findings and the actions taken against Sterling.
Under the terms of Silver’s punishment, the 80-year-old Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices and is not allowed to inhabit any Clippers facility or participate in any business or player personnel decision involving the team. Sterling is also barred from the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings and other league activities, Silver said.
The commissioner said the $2.5-million fine was the maximum allowed under the league constitution and would be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Assn. will jointly select those organizations.
Silver said Sterling acknowledged that it was his voice on two recently released recordings in which he told a female friend he disapproved of her bringing black friends to Clippers games.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”
Asked if he expected Sterling to fight his decision, Silver said, “I have no idea.”
Silver said it did not matter that Sterling’s comments were recorded without his knowledge in a private setting. “Whether or not these remarks were shared in private,” Silver said, “they are now public and they represent his views.”
The University of Michigan has announced a four-month initiative called the Understanding Race Project. From January through April, the university will feature public exhibits, lectures, performances, symposia, and other events examining the role of race in American society. Among the lecturers who will be visiting campus to participate in the project are Angela Davis, Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. During the spring semester, 130 courses dealing with racial issues will be offered students in a wide variety of disciplines.
“The Understanding Race Project is as broad and varied as the cultural and ethnic groups that constitute and sometimes divide the human family here and around the globe,” explains Amy Harris, co-chair of the project and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. She states that the goal of the project is “to learn more about how social constructs like race have defined substantial portions of our history and continue to impact our lives today.”