When the past is present…
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When the past is present…
Four black Americans will be among those receiving a no-strings-attached, $625,000 stipend—paid out in installments over the next five years—to keep doing what they do best: being geniuses.
That’s right, the MacArthur Foundation named 21 “extraordinarily creative people” as the 2014 recipients of its annual MacArthur Fellows Program—widely referred to as the “genius” grants. Four African Americans are among this year’s consortium. These individuals were nominated by an anonymous and esteemed group of people who are experts in their fields. The fellows had to demonstrate not only that they are brilliant self-starters in their respective professions but also that they are pushing the limits on future work that has “the potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work,” the foundation’s site reads.
Here are the four black recipients:
Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist investigating the subtle, unconscious ways that people racially code and categorize others, with a particular focus on how race and visual perceptions of people affect policing and criminal sentencing.
Rick Lowe, a public artist using art to reimagine and revitalize struggling communities. His program has transformed derelict properties in Houston’s predominantly African-American 3rd Ward into a visionary arts venue and community center. He has since begun similar work in other cities, including current projects in Dallas and Philadelphia.
Steve Coleman, a jazz composer and saxophonist infusing traditional jazz with an eclectic range of other musical styles, including music from West Africa, South India, Brazil and Cuba.
Terrance Hayes, a poet crafting musical, almost improvisational, verse that delves into issues of race, gender, current events and family. He often uses humorous wordplay and references to pop culture, including poems that speak in the voices of David Bowie, Jorge Luis Borges and Strom Thurmond.
If it can be said that real men don’t hit women, then we should also say real men don’t beat children.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on a felony charge for beating his four-year-old son with a switch — a tree branch — in an act that exceeded “reasonable discipline” according to the Montgomery County, Texas, District Attorney’s office. The NFL player punished his son for pushing another one of his children off of a motorbike video game, and Peterson said the whooping was not unlike the discipline “he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.”
The boy reportedly suffered from numerous injuries, including cuts and wounds to his ankles, legs, hands, back, buttocks and scrotum. The child also said his father hit him with belts and put leaves in his mouth while he was being hit, pants down, with the switch.
As a black father with a four-year old son, I cannot imagine ever beating my beautiful child. I cannot and will not treat my son like a slave….
We all cringe with horror, perhaps even cry, when we view depictions of brutality in films such as 12 Years a Slave. It feels far too familiar, too close to home. If we recoil at the sight of slaves being beaten, then why would we subject our own children to the same treatment? The purpose of whippings, floggings and other forms of abuse under slavery was clear — to subjugate and control black people with arbitrary cruelty, beat them down not just physically but also spiritually and psychically, and reinforce the master’s control over them.
In some cases, enslaved black parents — who really had no rights over their own children, and perhaps had to care for the master’s children at the expense of their own — beat their children to please their owner, or to ward off more severe punishment from the master.
So how can this in any way benefit our children today?…
Many parents physically discipline their children, and black folks are no exception. And corporal punishment is not illegal in most states unless it causes severe harm. But just because something is legal does not mean it is right. And if you wonder how far you can go and steer clear of child protective services before crossing the line into criminal child abuse, then you have missed the point….
But in the end, if a criminal prosecution, league sanctions and maybe even an ousted commissioner are the only takeaways from this high profile case of child abuse, then there is a missed opportunity for society, and for black America, to deal with a serious problem. We must break the cycle of trauma that passes from generation to generation like the DNA and heal both the victim and the victimizer. We must challenge societal norms concerning definitions of manhood, and black manhood, and the notion that one must use physical violence against others as a means of controlling them….
In the meantime, it is time to give the switch a final resting place. Let’s not go there anymore.
To read David Love’s full opinion piece, click here.
For more opinion on this subject from African American thinkers and fathers, click on:
For other Breaking News, click here.
A Canadian fertility clinic doesn’t want to create “rainbow families” so it refuses to match clients with donors of different ethnicities, claiming that children should be able to easily identify their “ethnic roots.”
A 38-year old white woman named Catherine (she didn’t want to give her last name) told the Calgary Herald that she was looking into the process of in vitro fertilization and was shocked when the Regional Fertility Program, a Calgary clinic, told her that she could only use sperm donors who were also white in order to avoid “creating rainbow families.”
“I was absolutely floored,” she told the newspaper.
Catherine believes that because of the clinic’s policy, many of the same men have been chosen by different patients in the area, which was one of the reasons she cited as having wanted to broaden her search to include other races.
“Frankly, it’s appalling how many people have the same donors, probably because of this policy,” she told the Herald. “A friend of mine just went through this process and used the donor that I would have picked.”
Dr. Calvin Greene, the administrative director at the Regional Fertility Program, told the newspaper that his stance on race mixing is firm and noted that the policy has been in place since the 1980s.
“I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants,” Greene told the Herald. “That’s her prerogative, but that’s not her prerogative in our clinic.”
Read more here.
Read more Breaking News here.
It’s no secret — the Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride killings have striking similarities. Both were young black victims and in each case, the killers claimed self-defense. But despite the parallels, it appears that the two cases are being treated differently — even within the black community.
Although the Martin case elicited strong opinions and outrage from various communities, these same circles seem to have stayed quiet about McBride.
“I haven’t seen a lot about this in my newsfeed. I haven’t seen a lot of people posting about Renisha, said Brittney Cooper, Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University.
As Cooper explained in a recent HuffPost Live conversation, much of the reactionary difference could be explained by the sheer number of African American killings that have taken place recently.
“A lot of it’s fatigue. I mean we’re all heartbroken this week over the killing of Eric Garner last week,” she told host Marc Lamont Hill. “So, you know, it’s like every other week we’ve got somebody else being hemmed up by the police. Two weeks before that it was the detaining of Ursula Orr and slamming her on the ground in
Arizona…” she said.
Fatigue aside, there may be another reason that could explain why McBride’s story hasn’t had the same impression that Martin’s did.
“While there is a historical narrative that shows black men have faced violence from their white counterparts, we don’t often acknowledge that “black women have these violent encounters with white folks too,” Cooper said. “I don’t know that we know how to think about, fully, what happens when the kind of violence that we’d usually think would happen to a black man, then happens to black women.”
But the question of gender in McBride’s situation runs even deeper.
“Studies show that black women are frequently misperceived as black men or are often thought to be masculine and stronger than they actually are physically, Cooper said. “So there’s all kinds of stuff here going on about the misperceptions of femininity.”
Watch the video interview of Professor Brittney Cooper here.
Read more Breaking News here.
When we talk about the gender pay gap, most of us are already familiar with the fact that women make just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. While this remains true, not all women are even that fortunate. For African-American women the wage gap is even larger. African-American women make just 64 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts.
This discrepancy is unacceptable. And we need better policies and more leaders who will fight for policies that will begin to change this imbalance. We need women in elected office who will speak up for the millions of women across the country who are working hard while not being paid a fair wage.
And here’s what the wage gap really means: It takes a white man and an African-American woman vastly different amounts of time to earn the same amount of money, regardless of the fact that they started working on the same day. If they both began work on Jan. 1, 2013, he would earn a full salary by Dec. 31, 2013—while it would take until July 21, 2014, for her to earn the same amount.
That’s why today, July 21, is her Equal Pay Day.
But her paycheck doesn’t reset today. Every day the wage gap pushes her earnings further and further behind. That gap keeps growing, putting her and her family’s future in jeopardy. If we allow continuance of the pay gap, she’ll never catch up.
That’s why Democratic women in Congress are fighting to make sure Equal Pay Day is not an annual occurrence, but every day. That’s why Democratic women have been championing policies to end gender discrimination in pay for years—because we understand the economic and social consequences of allowing the pay gap to persist—discrimination that hits women of color the hardest.
Earning 64 cents on the dollar is the national statistic for African-American women. But in Alabama, that gap is even larger: African-American women in Alabama make just 56 cents for every dollar earned by their white male colleagues.
These women will not reach their Equal Pay Day until Oct. 13.
According to studies, there are more than 177,000 African-American women in Alabama working full time, year-round, making an average annual income of less than $28,000. Their annual wage gap is more than $21,000. Many of these women bring in half or more of their families’ incomes, which means that when these women lose income, the economic security and stability of their families is diminished.
Read full article here
More Breaking News here
Joseph McGill, a descendant of slaves, has devoted his life to ensuring the preservation of these historic sites.
“Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to wake up and deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history.”
– Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project
At a bygone plantation in coastal Georgia, Joseph McGill Jr. creaks open a door to inspect his quarters for the night. He enters a cramped cell with an ancient fireplace and bare walls mortared with oyster shell. There is no furniture, electricity or plumbing.
“I was expecting a dirt floor, so this is nice,” McGill says, lying down to sample the hard pine planks. “Might get a decent sleep tonight.”
Some travelers dream of five-star hotels, others of visiting seven continents. McGill’s mission: to sleep in every former slave dwelling still standing in the United States. Tonight’s stay, in a cabin on Georgia’s Ossabaw Island, will be his 41st such lodging.
McGill is 52, with a desk job and family, and isn’t fond of sleeping rough. A descendant of slaves, he also recognizes that re-inhabiting places of bondage “seems strange and upsetting to some people.” But he embraces the discomfort, both physical and psychological, because he wants to save slave dwellings and the history they hold before it’s too late.
“Americans tend to focus on the ‘big house,’ the mansion and gardens, and neglect the buildings out back,” he says. “If we lose slave dwellings, it’s that much easier to forget the slaves themselves.”
A century ago, the whitewashed cabins of former slaves remained as ubiquitous a feature of the Southern landscape as Baptist churches or Confederate monuments. Many of these dwellings were still inhabited by the families of the four million African-Americans who had gained freedom in the Civil War. But as blacks migrated en masse from the South in the 20th century, former slave quarters—most of which were cheaply built from wood—quickly decayed or were torn down. Others were repurposed as toolsheds, garages or guest cottages. Of those that remain, many are now endangered by neglect, and by suburban and resort development in areas like the Georgia and Carolina Low Country, a lush region that once had the densest concentration of plantations and enslaved people in the South.
McGill has witnessed this transformation firsthand as a native South Carolinian who works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Charleston. But it wasn’t his day job that led him to sleep in endangered slave cabins. Rather, it was his weekends as a Civil War re-enactor, wearing the uniform of the 54th Massachusetts, the black unit featured in the movie Glory. Donning a period uniform and camping out, often at antebellum sites, “made the history come alive for me,” he says.
Re-enacting the 54th has also drawn public attention to the pivotal role of black soldiers in the Civil War. So in 2010, when Magnolia Plantation near Charleston sought to publicize restoration of its neglected slave cabins, McGill proposed sleeping in one of them….
“I’m not trying to provoke people to anger,” he says. His missions are preservation and education, and he needs the cooperation of the owners and stewards of former slave dwellings who might be put off by a more strident approach. He also feels blacks and whites need to talk openly about this history, rather than retreat into age-old division and distrust. “I want people to respect and restore these places, together, and not be afraid to tell their stories.”
This has happened in gratifying ways during a number of his stays. He tells of two sisters who had avoided any contact with the Virginia plantation where their ancestors were enslaved, despite invitations to visit. After overnighting with him at a slave cabin on the site, and realizing there was genuine interest in their family’s history, one of the women became a volunteer guide at the plantation. Local students, black and white, have joined McGill and written essays about how the experience changed their views of race and slavery. “Suddenly, what I read in textbooks became something I was able to see in my mind’s eye,” wrote one teenager in South Carolina.
McGill has also found that older white Southerners who own or operate properties with slave dwellings are much more receptive to his project than they might have been just a decade or two ago. In only a few instances have his requests to stay been rebuffed. More often he’s been enthusiastically welcomed, dined with his hosts and even been given the keys to the big house while the owners go off to work. “Sometimes I sense guilt is part of what’s driving people, but whatever it is, having me visit and acknowledge their preservation of these places makes them feel they’re doing the right thing,” he says. “It’s not a cure-all for what happened in the past, but it’s a start.”…
To continue reading the full article, click here.
For more Breaking News, click here.
By VERENA DOBNIK, bigstory.ap.org
NEW YORK (AP) — Four emergency workers involved in the medical response for a New York City man who died in police custody after being put in an apparent chokehold have been barred from responding to 911 calls, the Fire Department of New York said.
The two EMTs and two paramedics removed from the city’s emergency response system are the latest public safety workers to face reassignment as questions mount about Thursday’s death of Eric Garner. Two police officers — including the one who put his arm around Garner’s neck — have been put on desk duty…
Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows one officer wrap his arm around Garner’s neck as he is taken to the ground — arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes — while Garner shouts, “I can’t breathe!”
The restrictions on the medical personnel came a day after the police department said it reassigned Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used the apparent chokehold on Garner, and another unidentified officer while prosecutors and internal affairs detectives investigate. Chokeholds are banned under department policy.
The department said it stripped Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the force, of his gun and badge.
Court records show that within the past two years, three men sued Pantaleo in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests…
Earlier Sunday, the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded justice for Garner and accountability from citizens who attack police officers during an appeal from the pulpit at Manhattan’s Riverside Church.
Garner was “choked by New York City policemen,” the Harlem preacher told the congregation. “What bothers me is that the nation watches a man say ‘I can’t breathe’ and the choking continues, and police surround him and none of them even say, ‘Wait a minute, stop! He can’t breathe!’”
Read full article here.
Read more Breaking News here.
ABHM is collaborating with the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion in their “Building Thriving Community: Beyond Segregation” Community Dialogues.
This dialog project is the response of our two organizations to the yearning for deep conversations on this topic that we’ve both experienced this year. Milwaukee is the most hyper-segregated urban area in the nation and has the largest black-white employment gap. Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate and also has the poorest record of protecting the well-being of African American children in the country. (See the Report Card to get the full stories behind these facts – and many more.)
The dialog will take place in small groups of five and will be led by facilitators trained in managing civil discourse around tough topics.
When: July 30th, 5:30-8:30pm
Where: In a Riverwest arts facility (TBA)
How: To reserve your place, you MUST RSVP (include your phone #) no later than July 23rd to firstname.lastname@example.org (copy and paste this email address into your email program). It’s filling up fast!
There is no charge for dinner and dialogue, but free will offerings to defray ABHM’s food costs will be accepted. Please plan to stay for the entire two and a half hour program.
We look forward to being in conversation with you on July 30th!
ALBANY, Georgia (AP) — The first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Alice Coachman Davis, died early Monday in south Georgia. She was 90.
Davis’ death was confirmed by her daughter, Evelyn Jones.
Davis won Olympic gold in the high jump at the 1948 games in London with an American and Olympic record of 1.68 meters, according to USA Track and Field, the American governing body of the sport. Davis was inducted to the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Going into the USOC Hall of Fame is as good as it gets,” she told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview. “It’s like Cooperstown, Springfield and Canton,” she said, referring to the sites of other prominent Halls of Fame.
Davis was the only American woman to win a gold medal at the 1948 games. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Coachman was honored with a 280-kilometer motorcade in Georgia when she returned from London. However, the black and white audiences were segregated at her official ceremony in Albany.
Recollecting her career in the 2004 interview, Davis speculated that she could have won even more Olympic medals, but the Olympics weren’t held in 1940 or 1944 because of World War II. She retired at age 25 after winning the gold medal in London.
“I know I would have won in 1944, at least,” said Davis. “I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played.”
Davis attended Tuskegee University and also played basketball on a team that won three straight conference basketball titles. She won 25 national track and field championships — including 10 consecutive high jump titles — between 1939 and 1948, according to USA Track and Field.
Growing up in the deep South during the era of legal segregation, Davis had to overcome multiple challenges.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia says she was prohibited from using public sports facilities because of her race, so she used whatever equipment she could cobble together to practice her jumping.
“My dad did not want me to travel to Tuskegee and then up north to the Nationals,” Davis told the AP. “He felt it was too dangerous. Life was very different for African-Americans at that time. But I came back and showed him my medal and talked about all the things I saw. He and my mom were very proud of me.”
Davis won her first national high jump title at age 16, according to USA Track and Field, and worked as a school teacher and track coach after retiring. An elementary school in her home town is named in her honor and opened in August 1999 according to Dougherty County schools officials.
Vera Williams, a secretary at Meadows Funeral Home in Albany, said Meadows will be handling Davis’ memorial service, but plans haven’t been finalized yet. Davis’ cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
Read full article here
More Breaking News here
I recently added a new name to my list of inspirational writers: Janet Mock. Her best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, is a beautiful—at times bumpy—journey through girlhood. Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic Their Eyes Were Watching God, it is a touching story of self-realization and self-love.
For many it was Mock’s early 2014 interview on CNN with Piers Morgan that drew attention to this young woman’s story. But she is so much more than one interview. Mock publicly proclaimed her identity as a transgender woman in 2011. She has continued working in her community to advocate for women and girls like herself. She has commanded a social media presence through the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag, encouraging transgender women to live freely.
After her many successful years as a staff editor at People.com, writing and advocacy have continued to be her main motivation. Most important, Mock has challenged us all to question our perceptions of challenges facing transgender girls and women of color. She spoke with The Root about her work and how words empower isolated communities.
The Root: Isolated communities of color have been on the forefront of awareness when it comes to issues of gender identity; everyone else seems to be lagging behind. Do you think these communities will lead the social charge for trans people of color—people of color in general—when it comes to differences from the mainstream?
Janet Mock: All of our forebearers—when you think about queer and trans people of color—have always been at the forefront of movements of resistance. I think about Marcia P. Johnson, I think about Audre Lorde. These people have been a part of intersecting movements for so long because they have never had a place. When you never have a place in movements that are supposedly about you, you tend to look at them from an outsider’s perspective. You can tell people about themselves in a way that is powerful and also transformative.
Read full article here
More breaking news here