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The banner says "No justice. No Peace."

We think we know what it means — that we who want justice are willing to fight for it.
The words have a deeper meaning, of course. They are intended to remind us that that it is an impossibility to have a peaceful society as long as there is injustice, because inevitably those who are oppressed will rise up.

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As I follow the media coverage of Professor Henry Gates’ arrest outside his Cambridge home, it occurs to me that what makes this story both compelling and meaningful is the decency of the men involved.  Gates’ academic accomplishments speak for themselves, but he also has a reputation for being thoughtful and soft-spoken.  Similarly, from everything I’ve read, Crowley is an exemplary officer who serves as an instructor on racial profiling and who is described by numerous police officers, including African-Americans, as a good and fair officer.  Given his history, I take Crowley at his word that he is not a racist (or at least that he doesn't want to be one) and that he did not consciously act out of racial malice.

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Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 02:59 PM PDT

Michael Jackson, Not Too Many Words

by lyubansky

Michael Jackson changed with the times and, despite his flaws, evolved into precisely the kind of progressive force we wish all artists would be.

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Every so often, Hollywood produces a film about racial issues that is so honest, so truthful, so powerful that I wish every person could see it. Do The Right Thing (1989) was one such film. Crash (2005) was another. It's not that these are perfect films, just that they know how to deal with the racial themes they take on. Unfortunately, these films are the exception rather than the rule. In the spirit of how most MSN articles on pop culture seem to be written these days, I use a few recent popular films to describe five common mistakes writers and filmmakers make in representing racial dynamics.

X-Men

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"I am not a citizen of the world.  I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous."

This from former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, speaking at a Washington DC fundraiser on June 8th (see video below).

Gingrich has long been a polarizing figure across traditional party lines, but these particular comments have put him at odds with longtime Republican icon Ronald Reagan, while stirring up some surprising debate among progressives.

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Barack Obama's speech to "the Muslim world" was highly anticipated and desperately needed.  Here's a first look at what it did and didn't do.

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Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 08:21 PM PDT

Is This Joke Racist?

by lyubansky

Not too long ago, I overheard the following joke, which I am reproducing here to the best of my ability.

A man on his deathbed is given a few moments with his closest business associates.  He calls them close to him and says: "When I die, I ask that you put in my coffin an envelope with $100 -- as a gesture of our business relationship and the generosity that we've always shown each other."  All three men readily agree and they spend the rest of the time talking about more pleasant things.  When a few days later the man dies, his business associates follow-through with their promise. First one approaches the coffin and places an envelope with cash inside.  When he sits down, the second associate gets up and places his envelope next to the first.  Finally, the last of the men, the Jewish partner, approaches the coffin.  He removes the two envelopes inside and places them in his own pocket, replacing them with a single envelope containing a $300 check.

Never mind if it’s funny.  The question is: Is it racist or anti-Semitic?

And how should we decide?

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On the surface, multiculturalism seems a little like apple pie: It’s American and seemingly everyone wants a piece.  No wonder, then, that corporations are trying to sell it to us, one slice at a time.

One world one love tshirt

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The political fighting over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is rapidly picking up steam, and it seems that all the initial salvos are over several lines from a 2001 speech in Berkeley that was published the following year.  In that speech, Sotomayor took issue with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s purported statement that "a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases."

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Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 07:11 PM PDT

The Zen of Watchmen

by lyubansky

This is an article about the way we perceive and judge the world.  It is not intended as a movie review, but because it'll probably function as such for some readers, I tried not to give away anything that would get in the way of one's enjoyment of the film.  Nevertheless, readers who haven't read or seen Watchmen and don't want to know anything about it may not want to read any further.

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I don’t usually pick up books on negotiation, much less read them cover to cover. As a clinical psychologist, I tend to feel very confident about being able to negotiate interpersonal relationships with my "clinical skills" and the few times I’ve needed to engage in a business type of negotiation (e.g., buying a house) have not inspired me to try to master this particular skill set. In a nutshell, I’ve always felt that books on negotiation were written for someone else. I should have known better, especially since I’ve known the book’s first author for years and have seen his negotiation skills in person.

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Working in the field of race relations, I regularly attend a variety of talks, workshops, and other types of presentations about race and racism. It’s an incredibly rich and diverse area of scholarship and activism, and even after more than 10 years, I almost always learn something new. I also often leave somewhat unsatisfied--not because of anything that was said or done but because something I wanted was left out.

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