Tech’s Whiteness Is the Problem. Are We the Solution?

By Amy L. Alexander, The Root

Last week, Twitter said it was “pausing” to reconsider the process by which it bestows the blue checkmark denoting accounts that had been “verified,” and on Wednesday the company announced it was yanking the designation from some users who occupy the neo-Nazi or nationalist bucket of grassroots white activism. The announcements came after many users, including The Root’s Monique Judge, raised hell when Twitter gavea blue checkmark to Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who helped plan the pro-Confederacy march last August in Charlottesville, Va.

While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and his workers ruminated on the company’s account verification policies, I decided it was a good time for us to pause and think about our relationship with Twitter and other social media and technology companies. We voluntarily “contribute” our creative insights, dollars and labor to the success of these companies by buying devices and apps, uploading memes, ideas and language that trends widely. Yet in terms of the vast wealth these companies hold, disburse to employees and generate for shareholders, we get little in return.

Think of the recent moment where top lawyers for Google and its parent company, Alphabet, along with Twitter and Facebook, were summoned to Capitol Hill to testify before Senate and House committees looking into the company’s role in disseminating toxic content and ads during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

(L-R) Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google Law Enforcement and Information Security Director Richard Salgado testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee, October 31, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Anti-black messaging was the secret-sauce of many of the pro-Trump, nationalist memes and messages that flooded through the popular social media channels during the 2016 election cycle. Yet somehow, the gatekeepers at Facebook and Twitter didn’t seem to notice the methodical manipulation of racial animus that already exists in America, specifically, some white Americans’ negative opinions of blacks.

The leaders and staffs of Twitter, Facebook, and other popular social media platforms missed the Russian’s exploitation of the black-white divide, an obliviousness that has precedent: black women users had long alerted Twitter officials to abusive conduct of other users, up to and including death threats. The hashtag #YourSlipIsShowing catalogs such experiences from black women dating back several years, and is readily available…at least to those interested in learning about and addressing these kind of user experiences.

But clearly, the tech company leaders were not inclined to pay attention to this area of user complaints, a strong indication that they also probably weren’t interested in the views of the few blacks and Latinx workers at their companies, either. Just look at what happened to Leslie Miley, a black former engineer at Twitter. Miley revealed in a recent interview that he had flagged tons of dubious accounts in 2015, telling his bosses that he believed they were from Ukraine or Russia, and that they appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign.

Miley was told by his bosses at Twitter to “stay in his lane,” a response that Miley says he took as a sign that the company leadership preferred to err on the side “growth numbers,” rather than on any potential harm to audiences that the bots might pose.

Meanwhile, black users of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google products infuse them with a deep coolness factor that resonates around the world. Our intellectual property and creativity is the lifeboat that floats these companies to revenue solvency, yet few of us share in the enormous economic wealth generated by these companies, not even after dozens of news stories, industry conferences, and activist’s complaints forced the companies to pledge to improve hiring and retention.

Black Americans know when something smells rotten, including the kinds of scams and shady BS that can unfold at one’s job. And, as usual, blacks and other marginalized communities have solutions. We have the brain-power, problem-solving acumen, and moral fortitude to right the ship of state.

The question is whether our concerns and advice will be heeded, and whether we can achieve full access to the genuine levers of power in the United States, including access to quality education, healthcare, voting and, most importantly in the context of the innovation ecosystem, investment capital.

Read the full article here.

It’s not just the Tech industry, either. Read how one company is beginning to acknowledge its racist past here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Black Protester Hugs Squirming Nazi, Quips, ‘Why Don’t You Like Me, Dog?’

By Breanna Edwards, The Root

The black protester who was caught on viral video hugging a squirming and uncomfortable neo-Nazi outside white supremacist dump truck Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Thursday is acknowledging that he could just as easily have hit the guy (an act in which someone else had earlier indulged) but decided to go a different route in order to bring about change in his own way.

(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

“I could have hit him, I could have hurt him … but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love,’” Aaron Alex Courtney told the New York Daily News. “It’s a step in the right direction. One hug can really change the world. It’s really that simple.”

The unidentified neo-Nazi was seen at Spencer’s speech location wearing a T-shirt covered in swastikas. His not-so-subtle outfit obviously drew the attention of the crowd, which included protesters who screamed, punched and spat on him before Courtney wrapped his arms around him.

“Why don’t you like me, dog?” the 31-year-old high school football coach out of Gainesville could be heard asking the man. “Give me a fucking hug.”

Courtney could be seen attempting to get the man to hug him back, but the man just stood there, limp and uncomfortable, as Courtney embraced him.

A nazi and a black man…..America 2017 #SpencerAtUF pic.twitter.com/sSaG36EuOr

— Politics 4 Dummies (@Politics4dum) October 19, 2017

Surprised to learn that Spencer was a person and not an impending hurricane, or that the notification wasn’t about a kidnapping or something of the sort, Courtney started to do research.

“I found out about what kind of person he was, and that encouraged me, as an African American, to come out and protest. Because this is what we’re trying to avoid. It’s people like him who are increasing the distance … between people,” Courtney told the Daily News.

Courtney gave about four hours of his time Thursday protesting and was getting ready to leave when he saw Mr. Nazi himself causing a commotion among the other protesters.

“I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts, and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?” Courtney recalled.

“After beating around the bush and avoiding my questions, I asked him, I pleaded with him, I almost broke out in tears, growing increasingly angry because I didn’t understand,” he said.

However, Courtney, whose father is a bishop, decided to take some of his father’s teachings and offer the man a hug.

“Something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love. Maybe he never met an African American like this,” Courtney said.

It took some cajoling, but, Courtney said, “I reached over, and the third time, he wrapped his arms around me, and I heard God whisper in my ear, ‘You changed his life.’”

Courtney then said he asked again, “Why do you hate me?”

The neo-Nazi’s response, according to Courtney? “‘I don’t know.’”

“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney added.

The man was eventually escorted away by police, but not before taking a photo with Courtney’s friend.

“I honestly feel that was a step in the right direction, for him to take a picture with a guy that he hated when he woke up this morning,” Courtney said.

Read the full article here.

Read more about racial reconciliation here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Why TV Writer Angela Nissel, Black Females in Hollywood Need to be Heard

By Yesha Callahan, The Root

If you took a look at the writers’ room of some of your favorite television shows, you’d be hard-pressed to find a black person, and even harder pressed to find a black woman. But for the last decade, Angela Nissel has been leaving her mark behind the scenes on shows like Scrubs, The Boondocks and, now, The Jellies—Tyler, the Creator’s Adult Swim show, which premieres Oct. 22.

Before Nissel’s foray into scripted television, she was best-known as one of the creators of Okayplayer and for her two sidesplitting memoirs that captured the essence of her formative years, and of being broke and biracial. Both The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke and Mixed: My Life in Black and Whitewere heralded by critics, as well as the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry, and Nissel became the “it” woman of literature in the early 2000s.

Angela Nissel, Scenes from ‘The Jellies’ (Adult Swim)

It was those books that set the University of Pennsylvania grad (she graduated with a degree in medical anthropology) on her way to a career in TV. But, of course, Nissel’s ascent into television writing wasn’t easy, especially as a black woman. After being in the game for 15 years, she is still fighting her way into writers’ rooms, and she made it into The Jellies’room even though she thought she hadn’t landed the gig.

“Me being old enough to be Tyler’s aunt, I said, ‘I’ve heard of him,’ but I don’t really know him. And then I researched him. I was nervous in the meeting, but when Tyler came in, he just wanted to get to know about me. Ten minutes later, the meeting was over. I called my agent and was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that job; they thought I was a total nerd,’” Nissel says.

As luck talent would have it, Nissel landed the consulting-producer-and-writing gig on the series, and so her work began. And, yes, she was once again the only black woman in the writers’ room. As Nissel segues back into animation (after lending her talents to The Boondocks), she notes that writing live action and books is totally different from writing for animation, especially when it comes to the fans.

“How many f—— black cartoon characters is it on TV right now?” Tyler responded. “Name five. I’ll give you time.”

Nissel shares similar sentiments about Cornell’s newfound blackness.

“If you don’t like Cornell being black, color him another color in your head. What is wrong with people wanting to see the representation of themselves on-screen?” Nissel asks. “That’s why I think their generation will do better, and hopefully build on what my old-ass generation wasn’t able to do. Tyler is an outsider coming into this industry and wants Cornell to look like him. I don’t understand how anyone can be upset with that.”

With the success of this summer’s blockbuster hit Girls Trip, the spotlight is now shining on funny black women in front of and behind the camera. And Nissel has some savory advice for the bigwigs in Hollywood.

“I wish more people realize that having one voice in the room sometimes isn’t enough because you’re only going to get one point of view. At the end of the day, I just wish people would go outside of the neighborhoods and make friends with people who aren’t exactly like them, so they can bring that to the room if they don’t have the budget to hire 25 women,” Nissel says.

“I really want to create shows that show that women over the age of 40 still have lives, and they can be messy,” she adds. “To talk about the imbalance of women and men, like my own personal story of paying alimony. I want to tell the richness of women of color over 40 because sometimes I look on TV and we’re all dead, except for Oprah.”

The Jellies premieres on Adult Swim at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22.

Read the full article here.

Read more about the importance of black-owned media here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Racial Slur Scrawled on Black Military Cadets’ Doors–Academy Response Weak

By Jason Johnson, The Root

This week five African-American students at Air Force Academy Prep School in Colorado found the words “Niggers Go Home” scrawled on the dry erase boards outside their dorm rooms.

Once the school became aware of the racial graffiti the school superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria rattled off a statement to the press.

“I’ve said it before, the area of dignity and respect is my red line,”

“Let me be clear: it won’t be crossed without significant repercussions. Diversity is a strength of our Academy and our Air Force. We are stronger when we take into account the views of those with different backgrounds and life experiences.”

The students are all part of a 10 month program to help them acclimate to life at the Air Force Academy, so in a twisted sort of way this is part of their training. While their parents have expressed concern and an investigation has been launched none of that will change one basic fact: The United States military has a long, sordid, racist and violent history when it comes to the treatment of black soldiers. While this may be the first, it certainly won’t be the last or the worst racial treatment these young people will receive should they choose to serve in the United States military.

Twitter/@KRDONC13

Conservatives of all colors like to point to the military as one of the most integrated and racially harmonious parts of American society, which is fine if you’re talking about Salvation Army or GI-Joe. The actual military? Not so much. Black soldiers, whether in training or veterans have been routinely targeted through American history for a special kind of violence as white supremacy quivers at the notion of black people being armed, trained and capable of arming themselves.

That’s why black veterans were consistently denied the GI-Bill that built the American middle class. That’s why lynching of black soldiers has been so common throughout U.S. history. That’s why Richard Collins III, a recently commissioned officer two weeks from graduating college this spring was murdered by a white nationalist while the president barely said a peep.

That’s why despite African American women making up over 40% of all women in the armed forces it wasn’t until 2014 that President Obama was able to change racially biased hair standards for active duty women of color.

That’s why a group of West Point cadets showing racial and American pride caused a firestorm last year.

These are just examples of how the American military to this day treats people of color, it continues to do a number on white Americans as well.

The issue isn’t simply that a bunch of bigots wrote threatening words on the dorms of five cadets, that’s almost to be expected. The issue is that the military despite the rhetoric has not adequately rooted out racist sentiments in the ranks yet still expects (and in fact depends) on large numbers of African Americans to join up and serve, even if that means facing an enemy on the field or in your barracks.

Read the full article here.

Read about how to help positively impact racial reconciliation here.

Read more Breaking News here.

L’Oréal Fires Its First Trans Model After She Called Out White America’s Racism

By Lilly Workneh, HuffPost Black Voices

L’Oréal Paris has fired its first transgender model to join the brand just days after announcing the partnership.

L’Oréal released a statement on Twitter Friday morning saying the company “champions diversity” but decided to cut ties with Monroe Bergdorf, saying her comments calling out white America’s racism in a recent Facebook post are “at odds” with their values.

Bergdorf received big buzz earlier this week after L’Oreal announced her inclusion in a YouTube video ad for L’Oréal Paris True Match Foundation. But Bergdorf’s excitement was short-lived.

Santiago Felipe via Getty Images

By Friday, the company had disavowed comments the model previously made on social media, which surfaced in a report the Daily Mail published on Thursday.

The damning piece blasted Bergdorf over her comments, claiming she wrote that “all white people are racist.” Spectators highlighted how her words had been misrepresented and taken out of context, with some even suggesting that the story was a deliberate attempt to downplay Bergdorf entirely.

Bergdorf’s comments, which call out systemic racism in America and how white people benefit from special privileges, have since been deleted from her Facebook page but have been published elsewhere in full.

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people,” Bergdorf reportedly wrote, going on to address the privileges afforded to them. “Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***.”

“Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege,” she added.“Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.”

On Friday morning in the U.K., many expressed outrage with L’Oréal’s decision to denounce Bergdorf’s message, saying it highlights the hypocrisy of the company claiming to be “champions of diversity” while only embracing inclusion for goals driven by profit and actively condemning Bergdorf, a black trans woman, for speaking out about racism ― an issue that impacts people of color most.

“If you truly want equality and diversity, you need to actively work to dismantle the source of what created this discrimination and division in the first place,” she wrote. “You cannot just simply cash in because you’ve realised there’s a hole in the market and that there is money to be made from people of colour who have darker skin tones.”

Read the full article here.

Read about the history of race here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Philando Castile’s Legacy Of Helping His Students Pay For Lunch Lives On

Monique Judge, The Root

Philando Castile was known as a caring man at the St. Paul, Minn., school where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor. He cared so much for the children he served that he often paid for their lunches out of his own pocket when they were unable to, and now, thanks to a local college professor, that generosity will continue through a fund that has been created in Castile’s name.

(Facebook)

“No child goes hungry so we ensure that every student has breakfast and also lunch whether they can pay or not,” Stacy Koppen, Nutritional Services Director for St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), told WCCO. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year.”

Before Castile was killed last summer by former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop, he was always ready to help the students who were in need, Koppen told WCCO.

“When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times (Castile) actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” Koppen said.

Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus wants Castile’s generosity and caring for the students to continue.

She told WCCO, “His death changed who I am.”

Fergus normally assigns a service project to the students in her Diversity and Ethics class, but this time she came up with one of her own: Philando Feeds The Children.

The money raised through the YouCaring.com fundraiser will be used to help clear lunch debts at J.J. Hill.

As of Thursday night, more than $7,000 had been raised, and Castile’s mother, Valerie, told WCCO and Fergus that she plans to match the full amount raised with her own donation.

Read the full article here.

Read about the importance of reconciliation here.

Read more Breaking News here.

The Double Struggles of June Jordan, Poet and Social Activist

Griot: Anna Strong

June Jordan posing for the cover of her book, Moving Towards Home. 1989. Gwen Philips.

“But life itself compels an optimism. It does not seem reasonable that the majority of the peoples of the world should finally, lose joy, and rational justice as a global experiment to be pursued and fiercely protected. It seems unreasonable that more than 400 million people, right now, struggle against hunger and starvation, even while there is an arable earth aplenty to feed and nourish every one of us. It does not seem reasonable that the color of your skin should curse and condemn all of your days and the days of your children. It seems preposterous that gender, that being a woman, anywhere in the world, should elicit contempt, or fear, or ridicule, and serious deprivation of rights to be, to become, to embrace whatever you choose…”[1]

This quote exemplifies the life that June Jordan led and just how much of herself she put into all of her work, from her shortest poems to her longest books. She was an activist to say the least and she believed that the best way to address the social and political climate of her time was through her writing. Her writing changed the way that people read poetry, the way that they looked at the events happening in the world around them, and the way that they viewed Jordan an author. The quote above hints at some of the topics that she often discussed within her pieces of literature, but even still there was so much more and that is exactly what this exhibit is dedicated to; the life and work of June Jordan.

Jordan, June. The Collected Poems of June Jordan. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2005.

Jordan’s Early Life and “Double Struggles”

She was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York on July 9, 1936 to two Jamaican immigrant parents. Due to this she did not have what some would describe as a “traditional upbringing”. It was for this reason that she began to write at a very young age, using her writing as an outlet. Her parents were not like most at the time, as they were stricter and more demanding of her, especially her father.

This is evident in her work. In her poem, Poem about My Rights, she wrote, “Before that /it was my father saying I was wrong saying that /I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a /boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and /that I should have had straighter hair and that /I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should /just be one/a boy…”[2]

Through this poem, readers were able to gather an understanding of the problems that Jordan faced within her own home, as if the problems that she faced when she walked outside into the world weren’t enough. Jordan had what many have come to know as a “double struggle”. This means that she struggled twice as much as the average American because not only was she black, but she was also a female and she felt it even in the confines of her own home.

Resilience In the Face of Trauma

Jordan at one point said that she had encountered many bullies throughout her life due to her Jamaican background, and the fact that she was small and short, however, she named her father as one the first regular bullies in her life (Jordan, Civil Wars: Selected Essays). In another one of her books, Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood, she even wrote about the times that he had beaten her: “Like a growling beast, the roll-away mahogany doors rumble open, and the light snaps on and a fist smashes into the side of my head and I am screaming awake: ‘Daddy! What did I do?!’”[3]

Another traumatic event that Jordan wrote about which had an influence on both her life and her writing was when she was raped. She wrote about this event and her process of coping with it. In Poem about My Rights Jordan wrote that she had once thought she was in the wrong for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, she came to terms with the fact that she was not in the wrong. She realized, instead that there was something wrong with the system, which would allow for a person to commit an act of sexual assault and not have any penalties. Within this poem, not only was Jordan critiquing the system, but she was also addressing the problems that she often faced growing up as a female, and those problems were not singular to her. This poem was a message to young females growing up in America, a predominantly male society. She wanted to let them know that even if they face adversity, as she often did, it is not because they have done something wrong. Instead, women should be free to be who they are and who they are becoming and they should be unapologetic about it. “I am not wrong: wrong is not my name,” says Jordan.[4]

These traumatic events shaped her into the resilient woman that she became. Although her father bullied and beat her she still found a way to see good in their relationship. She stated in an interview before her loss to breast cancer in 2002 that she never doubted that he loved her and thought highly of her and her abilities.[5] She also began to cope with her experience with sexual assault as she often explored the issue of sexual identity and sex within a number of her poems. Many of the traumas that June Jordan overcame throughout her lifetime, she saved for her poems.

June Jordan at her childhood home seated at her piano. 1986. Scanned form reproduced photo. Radcliffe Institute.

Living Black in the US of A

Although Jordan was actually Jamaican there were certain experiences that she could not escape as a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, and as an American citizen. When people looked at her, they saw another black person and therefore they judged her and treated her the same way as they would have any other. Therefore, her writings tackled an array of topics, from black love to police brutality. Her poem, entitled Poem about Police Violence, encompasses both of those topics as she flows between different techniques and auras within the poem.

“What you think would happen if /everytime they kill a black boy /then we kill a cop /everytime they kill a black man /then we kill a cop /you think the accident rate would lower subsequently? /Sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby /comes back to my mouth and I am quiet /like Olympian pools from the running /mountainous snows under the sun…”[6]

What Would I Do White

She also dedicated her poem What Would I Do White to tackling this issue. Within this poem she made it obvious that she couldn’t even imagine white because it would be an entirely different lifestyle than the one that she had led. She ends the poem with, “I would do nothing. That would be enough.”[7] These two lines alone would have been sufficient for an entire poem. It emphasizes the differences in lifestyles while letting the reader know a little bit about her struggle as an African American. It tells the reader that unlike the alternate lifestyle which she was writing about, she has had to work in her life. She has had to work to be accepted in her family, work to be respected as a female within society, work to be equal in the eyes of the police and government officials while witnessing police brutality and corruption, and she has had to work to become the person that she was destined to be in such a demanding and hurtful world. And it is partially because of that simple difference, that she was pushed to write many of her better pieces of work.

Although, the purpose of the poem was not so that she could speak poorly about white Americans, but rather to demonstrate that life as a white American is much different from that of an African American. Within the poem she also wrote, “I would forget my furs on any chair. /I would ignore the doorman at the knob…”[8] Many will read these lines and assume that she is alluding to the fact that whites are careless and ignorant, however these lines have a much deeper meaning. They hint at the fact that wealth is also something that separates her life from that of a white American’s. She would not have furs to drape anywhere, nor would she be living in a house with a doorman ready to open and close the door at her will. Jordan worked hard all of her life, partially because she was a single mother to her son, yet she still didn’t live anything close to the lifestyle of the character that is described in the poem. How could she live such a lifestyle when there was still so much work to be done?

Jordan, June. Passion: Poems for South African Women. Beacon Press, October 1980.

Perspective and Impact on the World

This is the type of question that Jordan would have tried to answer within one of her poems, however, her writing was not limited. She did not limit herself to writing about the negative things of the world nor did she only write about the African American community and the injustices of the world. Yes, she wanted her writings to mean something and to have an impact on the community in which she lived in and the world as a whole. It is for this reason that she tackled such topics as 9/11, police brutality, sexual assault, government scandals and acts of corruption, she wrote about positive things as well. However, she should never be mistake for simply another “angry black woman” who used her poems, books, essays, etc. to let out her frustration. Instead she should be viewed as one who used her platform to make an impact by glorifying love, uplifting black men and women, teaching the youth, and empowering the African American’s experiencing the daily struggles of life. There is so much more than anger to be seen within her poems.

Poems in the Key of Love

One of June Jordan’s more famous books, Haruko/Love Poems was simply a collection of love poems that she had written over the span of twenty-two years.[9] In one of her poems she eloquently wrote about not only love, but also procreation.

“Little moves on sight /blinded by histories /as trivial or expansive /as the rain /seducing light /into a blurred excitement /Then /she opens /all of one eye… she who sees /she frees each of these /beggarly events /cleansing them /of dust and other death.”[10]

June Jordan collaborative community project in Harlem, NYC. July 2002. Brett Cook

This poem alludes to two lovers who are joining to “cleanse them [selves] of death”. They are cleansing themselves of death by making sure they continue to live through the legacy of their children. Which was also something that Jordan believed was essential; the legacy of children. It is for this reason that she wrote many books dedicated to young readers and edited the poems of young writers. In the book Soulscript: A Collection of Classic African American Poetry, she edited the works of young authors. The contributors to this particular book wrote though provoking pieces about experiences that should be well beyond their years. Yet they write about them so eloquently.

One of my personal favorites within this book is entitled Monument in Black.[11]  It sheds some light on the differences between races while emphasizing the blood sweat and tears that African Americans have put into this country and into the world, without much recognition. However, she does it through acknowledging the “monuments” that whites have achieved or at least that they are praised for. The message of the overall book is that young authors should have a voice as well since the collection of poems were all produced by young adults. While this book is only edited by Jordan, it is not the only book that she published for the youth. She wrote Kimako’s Story, Who Look at Me, New Life: New Room and many more.

Candid photo of June Jordan at the age of 66. 2002. Gwen Phillips

June Jordan wrote many impactful and important pieces of work.She was an educated African American female who took on the roles of mother, author, and political activist. Her books and poems were a place where these roles could merge together or be non-existent altogether. Jordan’s dedication and style of writing was one that cannot be mimicked and one that is missed. However, due to her impact on her community, her work and legacy will continue, especially since many of her writings are still relevant to the world that we live in today. This exhibit was dedicated to the life and work of June Jordan because she dedicated her life and work to all of us.

Sources:

[1] Jordan, June. Civil Wars: Selected Essays. Boston: Beacon Press, 1981, 4-5.

[2] Jordan, June. Collected Poems of June Jordan. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2005.

[3] Jordan, June. Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood. Boston: Basic Civitas Books, 1999.

[4] Jordan, 2005.

[5] Dinitia Smith, June Jordan, 65, Poet and Political Activist, (The New York Times, June 2002).

[6] Jordan, June. “Poem about Police Violence.” Mr. Africa Poetry.

[7] Jordan, June. Some Changes.New York City: Serpent’s Tail, 1993.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jordan, June. Haruko/Love Poems. New York City: Serpent’s Tail, 1993.

[10] Ibid., 3.

[11] Howard, Vanessa. Soulscript: A Collection of Classic African American Poetry. New York: Random House Inc., 1970.

Anna Strong is a 2017 graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her studies in English literature, she interned with America’s Black Holocaust Museum. However, she was particularly interested in African American literature and feminism, which led her to research and publish two pieces of work about these in Marquette University’s electronic publications. She is now greatly looking forward to continuing her education within this field and in law.

These Profound Photos Masterfully Turn Racial Stereotypes On Their Head

By Lilly Workneh, huffingtonpost.com

CHRIS BUCK/O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

A powerful new photo essay reexamines our relationship with race….

“Let’s Talk About Race” is a powerful photo essay published in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine that challenges the ways we view race in a masterful way.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief Lucy Kaylin, who oversaw all production of the publication’s “Race Issue,” commissioned photographer Chris Buck to help bring Oprah’s vision for the feature to life. Each of the three photos in the essay shows women or girls of color in a role reversal from the ways in which they are stereotypically seen ― or not seen ― compared to white women or girls.

One image shows several East Asian women at a nail salon being pampered by white female beauticians. Another shows a young white girl at a toy store standing before a row of shelves stocked only with black dolls, and the last image shows a posh Hispanic woman on the phone as her white maid tends to her….

The pictures are indeed eye-opening, and force us to reexamine damaging stereotypes and explore how race, class and power can intersect. (The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” refer to ethnicity, and those of Latin American heritage can belong to any race.) The opposing realities captured in the images also call into question the ways in which women of color are often portrayed….

“I knew that there was a vision to raise questions [about race] without being heavy-handed or mean-spirited,” he added. “That’s the way in which I approached the execution and helped them to create the images.”

CHRIS BUCK/O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

However, Buck, who is a white man, acknowledged that producing the photos led him to interrogate his own relationship with race, and that the images can mean many things to many people. But he says the photos, at their core, serve as means to help spark a healthy discussion around race and the ways we perceive it.

“For white people like me, we need to understand just because we’re talking about race doesn’t mean fingers are being pointed at us,” he said. “To me what’s great is that it’s made conversation. I want people of color and white people to be able to have a dialogue. I don’t want white people to feel like they’re being talked at or black people to feel like they’re being shut down either.”

“All parties need to feel welcome at the table in this discussion,” he added, “that’s how we move forward and to me, at their best, that’s what these pictures can do.”

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NAACP -On The Road To Change Part 1 – Civil Rights Organization Evolving To Tackle Modern Challenges

By: HOUSTON aframnews.com

HOUSTON- As African-Americans face evolving issues that are reshaping our community and futures, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) contends it is still relevant, evolving and up to the task to take on the modern struggles.

But in an era when activists quickly organize and mobilize mass demonstrations using social media, the NAACP finds itself struggling to remain on the cutting edge of the social justice movement….

NAACP Interim President & CEO

The NAACP,, named vice chairman of the board of directors Derrick Johnson as interim president and CEO.

Johnson, new interim president and CEO of the NAACP, wasted no time stating his plans and desires for the organization.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it,” he said. “We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day. We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight for justice….”

Johnson, Russell and other leaders are going on the road nationwide on a listening tour that will allow opportunities to talk to its local members and figure out what the future of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization should be, he said….

Leon Russell, NAACP National Board Chairman

The group is struggling to figure our how to better respond to the new realities confronting African-Americans without abandoning the principles that made it one of the nation’s leading forces for social change….

The base mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination….

“The modern challenge and question is how do we achieve our goals and objectives and get there collectively,” said Dr. James M. Douglas, president of NAACP Houston Branch. “With many of us spread out and living in many places, there is little cohesion or common ground among us – that is one of the main things we will have to address….”

Douglas said the residential spread has created a whole new set of issues on top of what already exists on the table….

Credit: NAACP.org

The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln.

Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice….

The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.

The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910 and named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization’s executives, Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis….

Although it was criticized for working exclusively within the system by pursuing legislative and judicial solutions, the NAACP did provide legal representation and aid to members of other protest groups over a sustained period of time. The NAACP even posted bail for hundreds of Freedom Riders in the ‘60s who had traveled to Mississippi to register black voters and challenge Jim Crow policies….

Credit: Library of Congress- Jim Crow Laws

In 2011, the NAACP launched a process to develop its strategic direction and plan, creating a powerful vision for the future, and setting organizational goals that would focus its work for the 21st Century.

It appears to work to rejuventate the base around key focus issues while rallying a new generation of younger members to help engage and prepare the organization to face future challenges…

The true movement lies in the faces–the diverse multiracial army of ordinary women and men from every walk of life, race and class–united to awaken the consciousness of a people and a nation. The NAACP will remain vigilant in its mission….

“These problems are not going to be solved overnight,” Douglas said. “It will be a teaching process as we evolve, but the goal is for every person old and young to understand and know the issues before them and get in the fight and stay until justice is truly secured for all.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Label Me Gay or African-American

By: Huffington Post

At 28 years old, Raven-Symoné has a very clear sense of who she is. The former “Cosby Show” actress and star of “That’s So Raven” recently sat down with Oprah and opened up about her strong sense of self, including her sexuality.

Raven has been relatively quiet about her personal life, but last year, when the Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Raven tweeted a status that many saw as her way of coming out…

Twitter post by Raven Symone

Twitter post by Raven Symone

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country,” she says. “But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman.”

Raven’s reluctance to open up about her private life is something she has practiced since her early days as a young star, under her parents’ guidance. “People in my family, they’ve taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible. So, I try my best to hold the fence where I can,” Raven says. “But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.”…

“I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay,'” Raven says. “I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.'”

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

In fact, Raven tells Oprah that she rejects the notion of labels completely in all areas of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.”…

“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to,” Raven explains. “I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

“You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American. You know that, right?” Oprah asks.

Raven puts her hands up. “I don’t label myself,” she reiterates. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.”

 

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