There seems to be confusion on this website about why AA react so strongly about caricatures that highlight and distort a "typical black" nose. I thought I would share some personal feelings I have on the subject.
Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Dr. Keith Baker is a professor of physics at Hampton University and is actively involved in several high energy experiments at Jefferson Labs as well as ATLAS in Europe.
The 2002 recipient is University Endowed Professor Oliver Keith Baker of Hampton University. He was cited for "his contribution to nuclear and particle physics; for building the infrastructure to do these measurements; and for being active in outreach activities, both locally and nationally." After earning his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from Stanford University in 1987, Dr. Baker joined the faculty at Hampton University in 1989 and holds a concurrent appointment as a staff member at the Jefferson National Accelerator facility.
Commentary: It was a black LGBT man who organized the march on Washington
by Black Kos Managing Editor, dopper0189
It an unfortunate truism in American politics, that a plurality of African Americans don't view the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community as a part of civil rights movements legacy. There is a lot of resistance to the idea that "any other group" can lay "claim" to the civil rights mantle. Some of this is a resistance to sharing political capital that was earned literally through blood, sweat and tears, fire hoses and police dogs. Some of it is bigotry, misunderstanding, and homophobia. Some of it is the legacy of the Affirmative action fights of the 90's. While both people of color and white woman benefited from Affirmative Action, politically a majority of white woman didn't fight to defend the program once they had gotten a critical mass into the work force. This feeling of political betrayal has resulted in a reluctance to "share" the civil rights mantle.
What doesn't get talked about enough is that the Martin Luther Kings March on Washington may not have happened without Bayard Rustin organizational skills. Bayard Rustin was an African American. Bayrad Rustin was a civil rights leader. Bayard Rustin was gay.
Gay black civil rights leader. Black gay civil right leader. Civil rights leader who was gay and black.
When ever people try to divide black and the LGBT community it's helpful to be able to reiterate that there are black people who are LGBT and LGBT people who are black.
Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Gebisa Ejeta, is an Ethiopian American plant breeder, geneticist and Professor at Purdue University. In 2009, he won the World Food Prize for his major contributions in the production of sorghum.
During primary school, Ejeta planned to study engineering when he reached college age, but his mother convinced him he could do more working in agriculture. With aid from Oklahoma State University, he attended an agriculture and technical secondary school in Ethiopia and also studied at what is now Jimma University. The university and the U.S. Agency for International Development helped him earn a doctorate from Purdue.
[This is a lightly edited reprise of a diary written for Memorial Day 2010.]
My stepfather's brother died with other Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal during World War II.
My best high school friend was killed in the early days of the Vietnam War.
These men will be honored tomorrow at Memorial Day ceremonies along with nearly a million of their soldier, sailor, marine, coast guard and air force compatriots who gave their lives in military service. No distinction will be made between the hundreds of thousands who died fighting in wars most Americans would consider righteous and the hundreds of thousands who were killed in the furtherance of bad causes or died in vain because their criminal or reckless leaders sent them into harm's way for greed, stupidity or empire. Those who fought in gray uniforms in a war of secession are given the same reverence, the same moments of silence, the same commemoration of sacrifice as those who wore blue into battle.
It doesn’t matter whether they were white soldiers from the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment who fell in the land-grabbing war with Mexico in 1847, or black soldiers of the 93rd Infantry Division fighting Germans in the war to end all wars, or Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team slugging their way through Italy while their relatives lived incarcerated in camps back home.
It doesn’t matter whether their name was Hernández or Hansen or Hashimoto. Nor whether they caught enemy shrapnel or a bullet from friendly fire. Nor whether they were drafted or volunteered. Nor whether they died fighting for liberty more than 200 years ago at Bunker Hill or crushing it more than 100 years ago in the boondocks of the Philippines. On Memorial Day all American warriors who lost their lives are honored because they did lose their lives.
With one exception.
My great-great-great-great-great uncle was killed by U.S. soldiers during the Second Seminole War. Other distant relatives were killed during the Third Seminole War. Killed for trying to hold onto freedom, land, the right to self-determination.
Whether they killed warriors and women on the banks of the Pease River in Texas, the Washita River in Kansas, Sand Creek in Colorado, or Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota; whether they fought Shawnee in Indiana, Asakiwaki in Wisconsin, Lakota and Cheyenne in Montana, Chiricahua and Mescalero in Arizona, Nez Perce in Idaho or Modocs in California, the men in blue who were killed in the Indian Wars are among those who will be honored Monday.
~Photo Courtesy of Elly Bookman~
Attempts have been made to correct this. In 2002, the 1909 memorial on the Denver Capitol grounds that honored the 22 soldiers killed as they and their compatriots massacred the southern Arapaho and Cheyenne at Sand Creek got a new plaque to replace the one calling that slaughter a Civil War victory for the Union. Twenty-one years ago, after viciously racist verbal attacks from foes of the move, the Custer Battlefield National Monument was renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Now, intermixed with the 249 white marble 7th Cavalry gravestones are a double handful of red granite gravestones placed at the site since 1999 for fallen Indian warriors. "Peace through Unity" designed the innovative Indian memorial at the site (in photo). Steps in the right direction. But not nearly enough.
Scores of sites throughout America could display memorial statues commemorating events with succinct plaques: From this site in 17-- or 18--, the Anishinaabe (or Comanche, or Alibamu) were removed to reservations in ------- after 50 (or 120, or 350) of their number were killed in a surprise attack by the U.S. soldiers, some of whom cut off breasts or scrotums for use as trophies and tobacco pouches. Their lands were turned over to settlers, miners and railroad builders and the city/town of ------ was built on their burial grounds.
Lakota and Cheyenne who died at Little Big Horn
in 1876. These have been added since 1999.
Let me be crystal clear. I'm for moving ahead, for transcendence, Indians and non-Indians alike. We live in the 21st Century, and people alive now bear no responsibility and should carry no guilt for what was done more than a century or two ago.
But tomorrow is Memorial Day, memory day, and, just as we do not forget the soldiers who froze at Valley Forge or took bullets at Fort Wagner or were blown up at Khe Sanh, there is no excuse for the nation to retreat into convenient amnesia and forget the deaths of those who resisted the theft and genocide led by leaders masquerading as divinely inspired messengers of freedom in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Until the nation remembers all its dead warriors, you’ll pardon me if my Memorial Day reverence is tempered with rage.
Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) was an American biochemist. She was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (awarded by Columbia University in 1947).
In 1947 Marie Maynard Daly became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the field of chemistry. She then built a career in research and teaching at such prestigious academic institutions as the Rockefeller Institute, Columbia University, and Yeshiva University. Daly's research focused on protein structure and human metabolism. Among other things, she contributed greatly to an understanding of the causes of heart attacks and lung disease.
Marie Maynard Daly was born on April 16, 1921, in Corona, Queens, New York. She was the oldest child and only daughter of Helen Page Daly and Ivan C. Daly. Her two younger brothers were fraternal twins. Her mother was a homemaker who grew up in New York, although her family was from the Washington, D.C., area. Her father, Ivan, was a postal worker who was born in the British West Indies and moved to the United States as a young man.
Review of David Boonin, Should Race Matter?: Unusual Answers to the Usual Questions (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
When I first read through this book, and even for days after, I leaned toward seeing its nuanced positions on issues such as reparations, affirmative action, hate speech laws, hate crime laws, and racial profiling as somewhat of a copout. I also had to get past the title (Whether it should or shouldn't is irrelevant. Race just matters. Come on!). Boonin didn’t take a specific stand on what kind of reparations the government should enact to pay the debt it he argued it owed because of its role in maintaining slavery. Also, he didn’t take a stand about what kind of affirmative action was appropriate, beyond arguing that affirmative action was morally permissible, although not required. Boonin advanced similarly nuanced positions on the other issues as well.
However, another voice, smaller at first but growing stronger, kept telling me that there was something very appealing in his approach, that it wasn’t a copout at all. After putting the book down for a week, I found my mind coming back to what I’d read. The initial frustration I had with Boonin’s not taking more specific stands began to fade. I started to wonder if, rather than avoiding the hard questions necessary to make progress, Boonin wasn’t in fact defusing questions that inspire debates so passionate that they cannot be resolved, and by so doing enabling us to table those questions and focus our energy on finding consensus where we are able to, in order to make incremental but real progress.
Even though Boonin is a moral philosopher rather than a political strategist, his answers to the questions he has posed, and even the way he has framed the questions themselves, turn out to be politically savvy in that they make it easier for people to deal productively with the topics under discussion. He deflects the conversation away from areas that inspire so much passion that they make it difficult to generate a majority in support of change, focusing instead on finding areas of common ground where possible while giving some moral satisfaction to various sides in a given debate. Some certainly won’t like this balancing act, but from the author's perspective, his goal is to make progress and solve problems in a democratic society.
Rather than try to summarize Boonin’s exploration of all five topics, I’ll discuss in some detail his approach to reparations, an especially good one for us to see his common-sense morality and his pragmatism on display. Boonin sets out to prove that a collective debt exists regarding slavery, one that does not disappear with time. He recognizes that it may be difficult to figure out a feasible method for determining what measures to take in order to pay this debt (whether a cash payment, or increased spending on education for the inner city, more job training for blacks, or a number of other options), but that question is beyond the purview of his discussion, the goal of which is to demonstrate the existence of a debt and the moral obligation of the United States government to pay it. The point here is that he defines “reparations” as including a far greater array of options than a simple cash payment.
The key to Boonin’s approach is his assertion that a causal connection exists between slavery and the current inequalities of outcome experienced by blacks compared to whites. These disparities can either, he contends, be a result of genetic differences, which he notes has been rejected by the “relevant scientific communities,” or of the differences in the “social environment” each group occupies. Boonin argues that the most logical explanation for these differences is that the social environment in which black Americans live has been profoundly shaped by their ancestors’ enslavement. Thus, there is a present harm from slavery that must be compensated.
The question then becomes why do today’s Americans owe a debt, even for those among us suffering today, if the debt was incurred in the past. The answer Boonin offers is that: 1) the U.S. government, in its official capacity, directly committed acts that inflicted direct harm, and for which compensation must be paid; and 2) because the U.S government still exists, the debt still exists in a moral sense and so that institution can and must pay it. Additionally, the continued inequalities make clear that, even though the U.S. has taken measures to correct the disparities and thus pay the debt, the debt hasn’t yet been paid in full. This is a powerful argument, one that is hard to deny.
As for what to do about the debt, Boonin rejects as untenable what he characterizes as the two extremes: i.e. denying that the debt exists on the one hand, and taking a hard position about what kind of reparations should be paid on the other. Instead, he calls for us to agree at least that the government should “apologize for the role it played in facilitating the wrongful harms inflicted by slavery and its aftermath, and to acknowledge that it has a special responsibility to do something” to help blacks. Boonin continued: “We could then set aside the acrimonious debate over slave reparations and get on with the difficult but necessary work of determining how best to live up to that responsibility.”
It’s tempting to read this and, as I did initially, throw up your hands and say: “that’s it?” However, take a second and imagine what the effect would be of a real, broad-based consensus forming around Boonin’s proposal. First, imagine the real healing, the emotional gratification African-Americans would take from their government saying it was sorry for what it did to their ancestors and, indeed, to them. Reconciliation and forgiveness cannot occur without an apology. The effect might well be tremendous. Second, such a consensus would allow our country to then approach the “work” of how to pay the existing debt from a more unified perspective. Asking: “How will we live up to our responsibility?” is a very different question from asking what one group will pay to compensate another. Boonin’s approach to reparations, while it is also well-argued on the basis of philosophical and moral principles, is one that can help heal deep wounds and strengthen our sense of being one people.
Boonin’s approach to the other topics he has chosen do not likely have the same kind of potential for healing, because other than affirmative action they are not as directly related to the matter of slavery and its long-term impact on our country’s history. For that reason, I found his discussion and especially his proposed solution regarding reparations to be the most compelling one of the five. Nevertheless, for each of them Boonin dissected the matter and proposed a solution that, even if it would not completely satisfy every reader, offers a way for each of us to see the issue in a different light, one that enhances the possibility of finding some level of consensus.
My sense is that, on reparations and affirmative action--the two issues that address socio-economic inequality and racism most directly--Boonin’s overarching goal is to encourage people who do not support our government taking strong action toward rectifying the deleterious effects of racism to rethink their position. As for staunch racial progressives, such as the people most likely to be reading this post, I’d say he’s trying to prepare the ground for us to accept some movement toward our side, should a consensus build around such a position, and recognize it as a partial victory worth claiming. The book's value is in its potential to move people who take a moderately conservative approach to race and move them one notch in a progressive direction. If that happens, then that's not a bad thing.
No one book can resolve a long-standing political and philosophical dispute on a particular issue, let alone five, and let alone five that relate to a matter as contentious and important as racism in America. Nevertheless, this book has the potential to have a subtle, yet nonetheless forceful impact on the way we approach these five questions and race in general. Essentially, Professor Boonin urges people of good will on all sides to see where we might agree, and to make progress in those areas, even if it means leaving aside some of our treasured ideal positions. It may be a cliché to say that half a loaf is better than none, but he makes a pretty persuasive argument that that cliché is one with quite a bit of merit in this case.
Television & film of today is much different than it used to be. There was a time when the only black people you saw on TV shows & in movies were either playing the criminals, or the servants in the background. The same thing goes for the representations of women, gays or any other minority group.
However, the diversity of TV shows & films, while better, is still an issue to this day. And sometimes the solutions can be as insulting as the problem they're attempting to address (i.e., tokenism). Moreover, this gets into some of the same arguments bandied about with affirmative action. When we're talking about positions within government, educational opportunities, and even the hiring performance of companies & corporations, diversity has become at the very least an important agreed upon "goal" in most people's eyes (even if they may disagree about how you go about getting there). But does a writer or producer have a duty to present diversity when telling a story? If we're dealing with fiction, something that by its very nature can be unrealistic, does that fiction have to at least represent race, gender, orientation, etc., in a realistic way?
This issue seems to have been rekindled a bit last week by HBO's new series "Girls." The series, created & starring Lena Dunham & produced by Judd Apatow, is about the lives of twenty-something women living in Brooklyn. Before it premiered, the discussion tended to be about its depiction of women, since the show has been likened to a younger, more realistic version of "Sex and the City." After it premiered, the discussion turned to race. "Girls" has come under criticism for its all-white cast, with the argument being that in the "Girls" universe there seems to be very few black people or people of color anywhere in New York City.
You don't usually think of a cigar bar as a place where people have deep, meaningful conversations about society, humanity and race. I mean, it just doesn't fit with what one would expect. Now admittedly, I spend way too much time (and money) in cigar bars. And most of the time, we talk about sports and women and business. But that all changed today.
Fifty years ago, the notorious Bull Connor ordered white firemen to turn their high pressure firehoses on the demonstrators once again. But this time, on this day, they refused. How did this happen?
“As long as I’m alive,” said Clifford Roberts, one of the club’s founders in 1933 and a longtime Masters chairman, “all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.”Interesting New York Times story:
At the 76th Masters this week, there will be no club caddies required; only two black caddies started the season with regular jobs on the PGA Tour and one has since been fired. The great black caddies of the past, who carried the bags for Gene Sarazen and Jack Nicklaus and the game’s other greats, are dead or well into the back nine of their lives.Yes, there is very good money in being a caddy now. I think we need not look for more in terms of explanations. If there was good money in picking fruit, there would be a disappearance of the Latino fruit picker. Yes, I am calling white privilege.
For a variety of reasons, no new generation has taken the bags from them. Caddying, once perceived as a menial job, has become a vocation for the college-educated and failed professionals who are lured by the astronomical purses driven by Woods’s immense popularity. In 1996, the year Woods turned pro, the PGA Tour purses averaged $1.47 million. This year, they average $6.20 million.
March Madness? Here's a bit of the kind of madness we don't want to see.
Kansas State University point guard Angel Rodriguez stepped to the foul line during yesterday's game against the University of Southern Mississippi. When he did so, he was greeted by a not-so-sweet serenade, a chant that arose from a few students in the Southern Miss student band section:
WHERE'S YOUR GREEN CARD?What was that again?
WHERE'S YOUR GREEN CARD?Wow.
By the way, Angel was born in Puerto Rico, and graduated from Michael Krop High School in Miami, FL, where he played ball for four years.
In other words, he doesn't need a green card. He's as American as apple pie. At least he is to me, and presumably to most of you.
Coming off the Mississippi primary, where we all watched as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich chased the votes of that state's Republican primary voters (of whom exit polls showed 97% were white), this kind of incident is not exactly what Mississippians want the rest of the country to think about when they think of the Magnolia State.
Look, we don't want to impugn a whole state or region (or country for that matter) because of a few morons. The same goes for the incident we read about yesterday in mallyroyal's diary, where someone pasted a truly offensive bumper sticker on his or her car, one that denigrated President Obama with a racial slur. Neither of these incidents tells the whole story about racism in this country or any part of it.
And, to her credit, Southern Miss President Martha Saunders got it right, quickly apologizing on behalf of her institution:
"We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today's game," Saunders said in a statement on the school's website. "The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident."However, this kind of bigotry hits people in the gut. I'm sure it affected Angel Rodriguez, even if he was too tough to let it show or to admit it openly. He did score 13 points and, in a just outcome, his team defeated Southern Miss to advance to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
I'm also sure it affected a lot of other people as well, Latinos as well as those who believe in equality for all, although they will go on living their lives. Additionally, it turns out this hateful chant was captured by TV cameras broadcasting the game, so millions of people were exposed to it.
But we, in this community, and hopefully in communities all over this country can stand up and say that we reject hate. That we'll fight against it. And that, in the political arena, we'll do everything in our power to defeat those politicians who prey on hate and who use hate to divide our people against each other along ethnic and racial lines. Moreover, we'll go out and fight for those politicians who actively seek to enhance our national unity, to strengthen the ties across those lines of culture, religion, and ancestry and make us feel like we are really one people. I think we all know which politicians fall into which category.
To return to the incident at hand, let me say this: Angel, I know you don't know me, but I want you to know that I stand with you, and that in my mind we are part of the same family. What family is that? The American family.
As our President declared in his 2011 State of the Union (and on many other occasions as well):
We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people.Let that language serve as a reply to the hate spewed at yesterday's game. I truly hope that helps.