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Leaning In While Black

By Tamara Winfrey Harris, In These Times

Can Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto speak to women of color?

The film "Think Like A Man" instructs black women to curb their success to get a man. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

The film “Think Like A Man” instructs black women to curb their success to get a man. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

James Brown may have left this mortal coil, but one of his most famous pronouncements is as true today as in 1966: “This is a man’s world.” Only 17 of the world’s 193 countries are led by women; in the United States, women hold just 14 percent of executive officer positions and 18 percent of congressional seats.

Numerous researchers have looked into why this glass ceiling persists. In a 2003 study on gender, success and likeability, professors from Columbia Business School and New York University found that a successful “Howard” is viewed as more appealing than a “Heidi” with identical accomplishments and personality traits. Women’s careers are also hampered by a culture that insists that men should be primary providers and women primary nurturers and housekeepers, forcing women to make hard decisions between work and family. And that is just a fraction of the story of inequity. It is no wonder many women back away from their ambition.

According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifestoLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, this disparity in power and achievement can be attributed to systemic gender inequality and cultural biases, but also to something else: the way women are acculturated to respond, often subconsciously, to these factors. Sandberg calls on women to “lean in”: to act with boldness and confidence; to “sit at the table” where decisions are made; to choose life partners who support their careers; and to not put those careers on hold for marriage and babies before those things are a reality.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of the self-described feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Whether Sandberg, from her perch at the pinnacle of a tech behemoth, is the right person to lead a revolution for less-privileged women has been the topic of much debate. But bits of the author’s wisdom may “click” for particular readers in unexpected ways. Sandberg’s message about choosing supportive partners made me blink, because it stands in stark contrast to advice directed toward a particular segment of professional women. Thanks to concerns about low marriage rates among African Americans, professional black women are bombarded with warnings about careerism and success. A burgeoning genre of advice books instructs straight black women to, in effect, “lean back” in order to attract men….

Black women, especially highly successful ones, are expected to sacrifice achievement for the alleged greater good of traditional marriage. And they are encouraged to think more about being chosen than choosing—making themselves attractive to men by conforming to an outdated template of femininity rather than, as Sandberg suggests, selecting a supportive mate interested in a 50/50 partnership.

Sandberg counsels that choosing a mate is one of the most important decisions a working woman will make. If that is true, lack of support, in addition to systemic sexism and racism, may explain why black women fare worse than their white counterparts in the halls of power….

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CNN’s Lack of Diversity Shows in the “Dark-Skinned Males” Comment

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

John King of CNN News. Courtesy of Reuters.

John King of CNN News. Courtesy of Reuters.

When you use a loosely-defined term such as “dark-skinned male” to describe the suspect of one of the most notorious crimes in American history, you should fully expect that people are going to become angry with you.   So, when CNN’s John King went there, all Hades broke loose in the blink of an eye.  A series of prominent figures and organizations went on full alert, from Rev. Al Sharpton to the National Association of Black Journalists.   King was not only called out for using the term, he was also called out for using faulty information.

This kind of irresponsible use of language and imagery is nothing new in the Boston area.  Back in 1990, a man by the name of Charles Stuart shot and killed his pregnant wife, then falsely claimed that a black man did it.  This led to a massive manhunt throughout the city, where black men were being stopped, searched, abused and apprehended for no good reason.  This reign of police terror remains as a scar on Boston’s ugly racial history, and this situation certainly didn’t help….

We can’t entirely blame King for using skin color as part of the description, since it does reduce the potential pool of suspects.  But what we can blame him for is the use of poorly-researched information and not being more specific.  If the suspect had indeed been a dark-skinned male, it might have made more sense for King to wait until an image was released, instead of seeking to be the first man on television to give any kind of information to the public.   I suspect that King hardly understands the kind of danger every “dark-skinned male” in the state of Massachusetts would be dealing with as a result of his seemingly innocent little sentence.

As a case-in-point,…

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Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness

by Tim Wise at timwise.org

Tim Wise is a renown anti-racism essayist, author, and educator. This essay was posted on his site on April 16, 2013, the day after the bombing of the Boston Marathon. At that time there was not yet any information about who might have perpetrated the attack.

Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for runners who were racing on behalf of fallen soldiers -- one of those fallen soldiers being Arredondo's son -- and handing out American flags when the blast went off across the street. He ran to help injured spectators, including Jeff Bauman, whose legs were blown off. Arredondo can be seen, wearing a cowboy hat, in an iconic photo, apparently holding the Bauman's severed artery, NBC News reports.

Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for runners who were racing on behalf of fallen soldiers — one of those fallen soldiers being Arredondo’s son — and handing out American flags when the blast went off across the street.
He ran to help injured spectators, including Jeff Bauman, whose legs were blown off. Arredondo can be seen, wearing a cowboy hat, in an iconic photo, apparently holding the Bauman’s severed artery, NBC News reports.

As the nation weeps for the victims of the horrific bombing in Boston yesterday, one searches for lessons amid the carnage, and finds few. That violence is unacceptable stands out as one, sure. That hatred — for humanity, for life, or whatever else might have animated the bomber or bombers — is never the source of constructive human action seems like a reasonably close second.

But I dare say there is more; a much less obvious and far more uncomfortable lesson, which many are loathe to learn, but which an event such as this makes readily apparent, and which we must acknowledge, no matter how painful.

It is a lesson about race, about whiteness, and specifically, about white privilege.

I know you don’t want to hear it. But I don’t much care. So here goes.

White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker and Derek Mathew Shrout, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

The brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, (L) and his brother Tamerlan, 26. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police today. His brother remains at large.

The brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, (L) and his brother Tamerlan, 26. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police today. His brother remains at large.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican. [Editor’s Note: As of this posting, there are two suspects, brothers, U.S. residents who are said to be refugees from Chechnya, a part of the Russian Federation. The brothers, who are white Europeans – literally Caucasians from the Caucasses – are rumored to be Muslim. White Muslims – that complicates things! I suspect that, in terms of fear and prejudice in the U.S., being Muslim – and from Russia – will trump being white in this case.]

In short, white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you’re white) — and me — to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one’s shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression.

That is all. And it matters.

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Read more of Tim Wise’s writings here.

 

Rand Paul: GOP faces ‘daunting task’ with black voters

By Ken Thomas, Associated Press

Rand Paul

Rand Paul Official Portrait, 2011

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that Republicans face long odds in connecting with black voters and are often cast as unsympathetic to the needs of blacks and minorities — something he says the party needs to change.

Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in a speech at Howard University that the Republican party was rooted in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and efforts to rid the South of oppressive Jim Crow laws…

“Republicans face a daunting task. Several generations of black voters have never voted Republican and are not very open to considering the option,” Paul said. [Editor’s Note: To find out why that is, click on the link below this article.] By speaking at Howard, Paul said he hoped students would “hear me out — that you will see me for who I am, not the caricature sometimes presented by political opponents.”

Paul’s speech to black students and faculty members at the historically black university was emblematic of Republicans’ efforts to attract a broader swath of voters following President Barack Obama’s re-election…

He argued that many Democrats had opposed civil rights in the South during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt but many black voters became impatient with Republicans in the years that followed over economic policies. He said Democrats offer “unlimited federal assistance” and policies that put “food on the table but too often, I think, don’t lead to jobs and meaningful success.”

Paul said using taxes to “punish the rich” hurts everyone in the economy, along with more regulations and higher debt. “Big government is not a friend of African-Americans,” he said.

Many students said they didn’t agree with Paul on many issues but gave him credit for speaking to them. “It could be very intimidating. You’re sitting in a room with people who don’t support you for the most part so I do give him credit for coming,” said Tasia Hawkins, an 18-year-old freshman from New York.

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To learn why the majority of black voters abandoned the party of Lincoln, visit our exhibit  Politics in Black and White.

 

 

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Won’t Respond To Group’s Call To End Segregated Prom

By Hunter Stuard, Huffingtonpost.com

Nathan-DealGeorgia Gov. Nathan Deal won’t be endorsing one high school’s effort to have its first integrated prom — at least for the time being, his spokesman said.

“This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic Party and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt,” Robinson wrote, according to WMAZ-TV.

Yet three Republican state representatives have joined four Democrats in endorsing the integrated prom, according to Better Georgia, the group that called for Deal to also support the idea.

Wilcox County High School, located in Rochelle, Ga., is planning to have its first integrated prom this year, thanks to the efforts of a small group of students who organized and fundraised for the event. The Georgia NAACP helped the students’ effort by lobbying the Wilcox County School Board to end the practice of segregated proms.

Georgie State FlagIn the past, students have attended racially segregated proms. The dances were funded by the county’s families, not by the school.

“I put up posters for the integrated prom and we’ve had people ripping them down at the school,” Keela Bloodworth, one of the students who led the effort to host the integrated event, told WSAV.

The school’s principal, Chad Davis, said that school officials will consider having an official prom in 2014, according to a statement on the school’s website.

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James Earl Ray Video: New Footage Of Martin Luther King Jr. Assassin Released

By Peter Finocchiaro, HuffingtonPost.com

MLK JrAlmost exactly 45 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, new video footage has surfaced of his killer, James Earl Ray.

The Shelby County, Tenn., Register’s office released the newly restored footage this week, posting several videos to its website chronicling certain aspects of the assassin’s arrest and trial. The most dramatic of the videos shows Ray receiving his Miranda rights on an airplane shortly after his arrest in London in June, 1968….

Ray shot King in the head on April 4, 1968, while the civil rights leader was standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. Ray then fled north from Memphis, across the Canadian border to Toronto, where he assumed a false identity and evaded detection for several weeks. He was ultimately arrested across the Atlantic, in London’s Heathrow Airport, two months after the assassination. It was on the flight back to the United States, following his extradition, that the footage of Ray hearing his rights was recorded.

Shelby County has uploaded a number of additional videos from the Ray trial to its website, totaling several hours of previously unseen court procedure. The footage was the first of its kind for the county…

According to a statement released by Shelby County:

James Earl RayIn 1968, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office purchased a Sony Videocorder and Video Camera for the purposes of documenting the extradition, incarceration, and proceedings as related to James Earl Ray for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is believed that the personnel using the equipment were learning how to operate this technology as they recorded. As a result, the footage is not always as clear as we are accustomed to seeing today. Additional lighting is not used on most of the recordings. Audio portions are not always clear. There are inconsistencies in the video and audio tracks throughout the converted footage.

 

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View Additional Videos Here

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45th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassination

By Senator Bert Johnson, Huffingtonpost.com

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 45 years ago, at 6:01 p.m., at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the age of 39.

Dr. King once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

These words endure to this day. Though we’ve witnessed tremendous progress since segregation, the bus boycotts, the three marches on Selma, and the other events that shaped the course of civil rights in America, the work is not complete. Though we’ve taken major strides, we still must work to create our more perfect union.

Sadly, there are communities and people across the nation who are still disenfranchised and relegated to an unequal status. I am talking about a young black boy or girl struggling to overcome the institutional racism embedded in certain U.S. policies; or the Hispanic child of immigrant parents caught up in our broken immigration system; or our brother or sister in the LGBTQI community who lacks even the most simple of rights we enjoy…

As an affirmation of our duties to the common good and as a rallying cry for those feeling frustrated with incremental change and seemingly endless setbacks — particularly in Detroit where our people are distressed, demoralized and sick and tired of being sick and tired — I leave you with one last quote by Dr. King:

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

It’s also why today, 45 years after the assassination of one of our finest leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy lives on.

 

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Elwin Wilson Dead: Former KKK Supporter Who Apologized For Racist Past Dies

By MARTHA WAGGONER, Huffingtonpost.com

John Lewis, D-Ga, left, gives Elwin Wilson of Rock Hill, S.C., a copy of Lewis' book in the congressman's Washington, D.C. office, while taping an interview for ABC's "Good Morning America."

John Lewis, D-Ga, left, gives Elwin Wilson of Rock Hill, S.C., a copy of Lewis’ book in the congressman’s Washington, D.C. office, while taping an interview for ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Elwin Wilson, the former Ku Klux Klan supporter who publicly apologized for years of violent racism, including the beating of a black Freedom Rider who went on to become a Georgia congressman, has died. He was 76.

Wilson died Thursday at a hospital in South Carolina after a bout with the flu and years of heart and lung problems, said his wife, Judy Wilson.

She told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Sunday that he was relieved he lived long enough to try to make amends for years of racial hatred. He detailed his deeds at length when he called The Herald of Rock Hill to apologize shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009…

Among his actions were cross burnings; hanging a black doll in a noose at the end of his driveway; flinging cantaloupes at black men walking down Main Street; hurling a jack handle at a black boy jiggling the soda machine in his father’s service station; and the brutal beating of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at a Rock Hill bus station in 1961.

“His story is a powerful story; his story must not be forgotten,” Lewis told The Herald in a telephone interview Saturday. “His story and the way he arrived at his position must be understood, must be told.”

Wilson also apologized in several other public venues, including during a meeting with Lewis at the congressman’s Capitol Hill office…

“He was the first private citizen,” Lewis said. “He was the very, very first to come and apologize to me … for a private citizen to come along and say, `I’m the one that attacked you; I’m the one who beat you.’ It was very meaningful.”

 

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April Firsts – No Fooling!

From theRoot.com

Beyond Jackie Robinson: 15 Firsts  In honor of the film “42”

Check out these barrier breakers – from a Playboy Playmate to an NHL player – here.

The eagerly awaited biopic, “42,” about Major League Baseball’s first African American player, opens in theaters nationwide this month. Watch the trailer, then see if you can identify any of this sample of four “firsts.” How many can you get right?

This first African American flygirl got her wings before Amelia Earhart. She was a daredevil, who performed amazing stunts in airshows, and died as she had lived.

This first African American flygirl got her wings before Amelia Earhart. She was a daredevil, who performed amazing stunts in airshows, and died as she had lived.

This talented man represents two "firsts." He was the first African American graduate of a US college and the first to be elected to a state legislature. In what years did he accomplish these feats? From what college did he graduate?

This talented man represents two “firsts.” He was the first African American graduate of a US college and the first to be elected to a state legislature. In what years did he accomplish these feats? From what college did he graduate?

Long before Hallie Berry and Denzel Washington, she was the first African American to receive an academy award, for best supporting actress. What was the name of the blockbuster film? What role did she play? What is her name?

Long before Hallie Berry and Denzel Washington, she was the first African American to receive an Academy Award, for best supporting actress. What was the name of her blockbuster film? What role did she play? What is her name?

His last name tells you what position he played as a barrier-breaker in the National Football League in 1953.

His last name and his nickname “Mitts” give you a clue as to what position he played as a barrier-breaker in the National Football League in 1953. How many games did he play in that position?

 

Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors For Friends

By Janel Ross, Huffingtonpost.com

"Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don't interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise," said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. "So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?"

“Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don’t interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise,” said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. “So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?”

There’s a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They’re caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people.

The reality: racism and racial inequality aren’t just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They’re also based on privilege, she said — how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out.

The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said….

black-unemployment

Since black unemployment rates are far higher than white rates, the number of people in a typical black social network who are in a position to help is far more limited.

It’s not that black workers don’t attempt the same sort of job assists within their own networks, said Deirdre Royster, an economic sociologist at New York University and author of Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue Collar Jobs…

According to Royster, there’s an additional twist: When blacks are aware of a job, they describe the job, the boss, the company and its preferences and needs. Then they follow up with a warning.

“They give the person looking for a job all sorts of information and then they say, ‘But don’t tell them I sent you,'” said Royster.

Black workers are aware of something that researchers are still trying to explain: White bosses often worry, lack of statistical evidence aside, that black workers are more likely to sue them or band together in the workplace and try to change things, Royster said. That seems all the more likely if the black workers already know one another, she said. And many white hiring managers still assume, consciously or unconsciously, that black workers bring undesirable workplace habits and qualities, Royster said.

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