Born to Protest: Legal Trailblazer Pauli Murray Takes Her Rightful Place in History

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2019-01-18 23:29Z by Steven

Born to Protest: Legal Trailblazer Pauli Murray Takes Her Rightful Place in History

Bitch Media
2018-12-20

Marisa Bate


Dr. Pauli Murray is finally reentering our public consciousness. (Associated Press)

In On the Basis of Sex, the forthcoming movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey into law, RBG (played by Felicity Jones) holds a moot court in her apartment to prepare for Moritz v. Commissioner, her first big case and the beginning of her lifelong fight against sex discrimination. One of the moot court judges is Dr. Pauli Murray (Sharon Washington), an African American lawyer, activist, poet, and priest, who’s wearing a truly terrific pink pantsuit. “Pauli would have been upset about that pink suit,” Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor of History Emerita at Barnard College, and Murray’s biographer tells me. In fact, “Pauli never visited Ginsberg’s apartment and certainly did not serve on a moot court as a judge, but it’s a biopic, and I think it’s a visually defensible way into the picture. But [as] a historian, if this was a documentary, I would’ve protested because this never happened.”

I was thrilled to see Murray in On the Basis of Sex, even if the film rewrote some of history’s details. (The movie’s screenwriter is RBG’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, and a generous defense would suggest the inclusion is a tribute to those his aunt admired most.) I have been fascinated by Murray’s life, career, and why she’s been so overlooked and underknown since I stumbled across an article about her a few years ago. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray was born into a mixed-race family in Baltimore in 1910, orphaned at the age of 3, adopted by her aunt, and raised in the Episcopal church in Durham, North Carolina, before becoming an influential civil-rights lawyer. Despite her accomplishments, when I visited the movie’s IMDb.com page, I found neither Sharon Washington nor Murray’s names listed. “Guy #1” and “Guy #2,” however, are…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Reigning from the Ground: The Gravity of Soledad O’Brien

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-04-04 22:43Z by Steven

Reigning from the Ground: The Gravity of Soledad O’Brien

Bitch
Issue #78 | Spring 2018, 2018-03-13

Lisa Factora-Borchers

photography by Margarita Corporan

The rumors circulated and reached me months before I met her. People who knew her in various capacities—from her personal representatives to those who briefly met her at a speaking event—repeated the same sentiment: Even with all her successes and all the reasons not to be, Soledad O’Brien is incredibly sweet and down-to-earth.

Like millions of other CNN viewers, I became familiar with O’Brien’s broadcast journalism in the early 2000s, when she secured her status as one of the few women journalists of color in mainstream media. In 2006, during the zenith of blogging, Heather B. Armstrong, a popular writer in the mom-blogosphere, gushed about meeting O’Brien in person and described her “glowing aura”:

“She was exquisite in every conceivable way, perfect hair and makeup and wardrobe, and when she greeted everyone and made small talk, I got the sense that her brain was wired to a digital encyclopedia of everything that has ever happened on Earth, because she spoke with authority on every topic.”

Some descriptions stay with you, even after 11 years, until you have to shed them as prep—because you can’t interview a master interviewer when you’re preoccupied with talk of glowing auras and infallibility.

O’Brien’s home is a sprawling apartment in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood (where, it should be noted, she has lived since well before its ascent to ultra-gentrified chic). Its white built-in shelves are stacked with impeccably aligned books interrupted by candles, framed photos, and artisan bowls and vases. The place is immaculate, but not intimidating. This feels intentional. As far as the famed O’Brien aura itself, it is a bit different than I imagined. She carries herself with a sense of ease and casual authority; although she comes through the door with her hands and arms full, that doesn’t stop her from calling out friendly greetings to me and the photography team. O’Brien has spent the past three decades telling stories. Google her—every kind of story that a journalist dreams about covering, she’s covered: natural disasters, structural inequality, national identity, politics, sports, and narrative stories from marginalized communities. There isn’t one way to describe her successes; they’re like vines—woven and connected, multitudinous and plentiful. After she dropped out of Harvard, she began working as a reporter, in 1989, for the medical radio show Second Opinion. She spent the ’90s reporting and anchoring weekend and morning shows for NBC before eventually transitioning to CNN in 2003. While anchoring CNN’s American Morning, O’Brien was moved to the documentary division and from 2007 until 2013 hosted the series In America, which eventually led to two spin-offs, Black in America and Latino in America

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Racial (Dis)Harmony: The Overestimated Post-racial Power of Meghan Markle

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2017-12-04 02:08Z by Steven

Racial (Dis)Harmony: The Overestimated Post-racial Power of Meghan Markle

Bitch Media
2017-12-01

Dr. Shantel Gabrieal Buggs, Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
Florida State University


Photo credit: Twitter/newsjsBW

This week, the engagement of American actress Meghan Markle to British royal Prince Harry set social media ablaze.

Race is at the center of this internet firestorm: Markle is biracial, with a Black mother and white father. As a Black and white mixed-race woman who studies multiracial identity and interracial relationships, the online debates over Markle and her fiancé have been both perplexing and unsurprising. Over the last year, Markle’s racial background has drawn negative press in Britain. Last November, Prince Harry publicly called out the barely veiled racism and sexism in the media coverage of their relationship. Despite this treatment, their engagement is viewed as an opportunity to change what it means to be British and royal, with American fans celebrating a “real Black princess” who will bring #BlackGirlMagic to the royal family and the seemingly stale royal wedding traditions. Several essays have been written about what Markle’s presence means for the British monarchy and the broader racial politics of the West…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Physics of Melanin: Science and the Chaotic Social Construct of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2016-12-20 02:10Z by Steven

The Physics of Melanin: Science and the Chaotic Social Construct of Race

Bitch Media
2016-12-19

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Research Associate
Department of Physics
University of Washington, Seattle

It could have been earwax. It turns out that the texture of a person’s earwax is not determined by environment but rather is written into a person’s genetic code. Some of us have hard, dry earwax, some of us have goopy earwax, and some of us have a combination. Thus, 500 years ago when it seemed useful to Europeans to start organizing people by skin color, they could have gone by earwax instead. Had they, for some reason or another, been fascinated by earwax, chattel slavery might have been organized around whoever had the earwax that was deemed less valuable. Race might have been defined by our ear excretions.

Inferior Science

Hundreds of years after the advent of chattel slavery, it’s easy to see why race is defined by skin color. Skin color offers a highly visible cue that makes sorting easy—at least until rape proliferates. The variation in human skin tones is due to a pigment called melanin, which comes from the Greek word melas, “black, dark.” Melanin is found in most living creatures, and when it is studied scientifically, researchers usually use the ink of Sepia officinalis, the common cuttlefish. Our social sorting by skin color can be put in more technical terms as a question of how much melanin our bodies produce and maintain as part of our epidermic structure.

Of course, in 2016, melanin content is not the only reason for one’s identification or racialization as Black. Today, Blackness is recognized as a cultural identity that is entangled with a historicity rooted in melanin content but not limited to it. In one study, the same picture of a woman with dark skin was racialized differently when her skin was lightened, and especially when her nose was made smaller. Studies show that phenotypic stereotypes about nose shape, hair texture, and hair melanin content function as cues in tandem with skin melanin. Meanwhile, what we have learned from studying dna and biochemistry tells us that sorting people by skin color is arbitrary for many scientific purposes, and that race is more about how we organize ourselves than about any absolute scientific truth. As the Africadian George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate, tells it, “Black is maple brass coffee iron mahogany copper cocoa bronze ebony chocolate.” Black identity is a sociogeographic construct with a real but tenuous connection to science.

Technically, melanin is a set of biomolecules that we think are synthesized by enzymes and that are notably very visibly colored. There are three types of melanin: the most common, eumelanin, which appears black or brown and occurs in skin and hair; the less abundant pheomelanin, which is on the yellow-to-red spectrum; and neuromelanin, which appears in high concentrations in the human brain, but the function of which we essentially don’t understand at all. For the most part, it seems, we don’t understand melanin…

…Today, many of us would agree there is no scientific basis for the animus toward eumelanin-abundant people, only economic convenience. The timeline is consistent with this perspective, since race was invented hundreds of years before the 19th-century discovery of melanocytes—the cells that produce the pigment we call melanin. Before that, racial construct was a chaotic mix of hatred, cruelty, greed, and perversity. In a classic example of the illogical nature of racial construction, we have Thomas Jefferson, who owned his Black mistress (or what many of us today would call “sex slave”) Sally Hemings and their children, waxing on about whiteness: “Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of color in the one [whites], preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black, which covers all the emotions of the other race?” In other words, the still highly esteemed founding father of the United States preferred the expressive faces of free white people to the stoic faces of enslaved Black people, and he believed these apparent differences were due to race, not relative states of freedom and captivity…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Race Card: The New York Times Realizes Mixed People Exist

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-09-11 09:02Z by Steven

Race Card: The New York Times Realizes Mixed People Exist

Bitch Media
2011-01-31

Nadra Kareem Nittle

Breaking news: the New York Times has discovered mixed people. Did you know that the number of racially mixed families in the US is growing? Or how about that some mixed kids feel pressured to choose one race? And get this—multiracial people find it annoying to be asked, “What are you?”
 
Yeah, that’s about as deep as the Times Jan. 29 piece on multiracial youth got. The paper evidently rolled out the article because the Census Bureau will soon unveil data about racial groups in the U.S., including how many people identified as more than one race—a move the government first allowed on the 2000 census.

…As required by law after Election Day 2008, all articles about multiracial people must make note of President Obama. And this piece follows suit. Why did Obama just check black on his census form? Isn’t he white, too? Should we call him the first black president or the first multiracial president?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,