Two-hundred forty years after the first Independence Day, Americans still live by the same color codes established before the nation’s birth.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-07-10 01:55Z by Steven

Two-hundred forty years after the first Independence Day, Americans still live by the same color codes established before the nation’s birth. We mark each other by complexion. We assign meaningless stereotypes to people according to skin color. We adore and fear and hate people on the basis of how light or dark they are.

Race, as many scientists will tell you, is not real, but racism is.

Darryl Fears, “Racism twists and distorts everything,” The Washington Post, July 8, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/racism-twists-and-distorts-everything/2016/07/08/d0f03364-4542-11e6-bc99-7d269f8719b1_story.html.

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Racism twists and distorts everything

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-10 01:41Z by Steven

Racism twists and distorts everything

The Washington Post
2016-07-08

Darryl Fears, National Enviromental Reporter

For three straight mornings, I’ve eaten breakfast sprinkled with madness. Throughout this week that started with July 4, I’ve woken to horrible news that was tough to swallow.

Like everyone else, I watched videos that captured the nation’s racial angst — two black men shot by police officers for no apparent reason, and a peaceful demonstration to protest those slayings that dissolved into the revenge murder of five police officers.

The details of what happened this week are still being pieced together by investigations in three cities, but what is clear nearly eight years after the election of the first black president is that the idea of a post-racial America was a fantasy.

I covered racial trends and demographics for The Washington Post for eight years ending in 2009, crisscrossing the country to write about segregated schools, crowded prisons and huge immigration marches, and I left the beat thinking that President Obama’s election in 2008 might bring at least a margin of the hope and change he embraced.

But America hasn’t changed…

Read the entire article here.

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Nothing is black and white in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s ‘An Octoroon’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-09 15:31Z by Steven

Nothing is black and white in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s ‘An Octoroon’

The Washington Post
2016-06-06

Peter Marks, Theater critic


Jon Hudson Odom, left, as George, Maggie Wilder, center, as Dora and Kathyrn Tkel as Zoe in “An Octoroon.” (Scott Suchman)

“Hi, everyone, I’m a black playwright!” the actor Jon Hudson Odom exclaims at the outset of “An Octoroon,” Branden Jacobs-­Jenkins’s acerbically virtuosic skewering of America’s perpetually festering racial anxieties.

Before long, Odom, shedding the guise of the dramatist — who goes by the initials “BJJ” — is applying white-face makeup to portray the roles of both the altrustic heir to a broke Southern plantation and his racist archnemesis, in the “black playwright’s” new version of a 19th-century slavery melodrama. “I couldn’t find any more white guys to play the white guys’ parts,” BJJ confesses, explaining that white guys have qualms these days about embodying people who own other people. He’s unapologetic, though, about having his assistant (Joseph Castillo-Midyett) put on blackface to play house slave Pete, while the white Irish author of the original melodrama (James Konicek) materializes to smear on garish red makeup to become the Native American character, Wahnotee.

Jacobs-Jenkins, a Washington-born playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist this year for his tragicomic workplace drama “Gloria,” is looking with a jaundiced eye in “An Octoroon” at the mechanics of “The Octoroon,” the 1859 “sensation drama” by Dion Boucicault that inspired Jacobs-Jenkins’s play. Simultaneously he’s highlighting the collective skittishness of our time over labels and racial identity and who has permission to say what about whom. By pla­cing black actors in whiteface and Latino actors in blackface and white actors in redface, he’s for­cing the rest of us to consider in the starkest terms the impact of society’s relentless color-sorting — conscious or otherwise…

Read the entire article here.

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How psychologists used these doctored Obama photos to get white people to support conservative politics

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-05-15 20:38Z by Steven

How psychologists used these doctored Obama photos to get white people to support conservative politics

The Washington Post
2016-05-13

Max Ehrenfreund

American politics always has surprises, but things have been especially unpredictable since President Obama took office. First, few observers were prepared for the tea party movement, which ousted several veteran GOP lawmakers, replaced them with more radically conservative newcomers, and helped the Republican Party win control of the House of Representatives in 2010.

“That left a lot of analysts slack-jawed, wondering: What was this latent force that drove the emergence of this movement?” said Robb Willer, a sociologist at Stanford University.

Then, of course, there was Donald Trump.

Willer speculates that one thing connecting these two political earthquakes might be white voters’ unconscious racial biases. In a series of psychological experiments between 2011 and 2015, he showed how hostility toward people with darker skin and perceived racial threats can influence white support for the tea party. He and his colleagues published a draft of a paper on their findings online last week — some of the most direct evidence of the importance of race to the conservative resurgence during Obama’s presidency.

First, the researchers randomly sorted subjects into two groups and showed them a series of pictures of celebrities, including digitally altered images of the commander in chief. One group saw a version in which Obama’s skin had been lightened, while in the other version, his skin had been darkened…

Read the entire article here.

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Why does the Misty Copeland Barbie doll look so … white?

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-04 18:03Z by Steven

Why does the Misty Copeland Barbie doll look so … white?

The Washington Post
2016-05-03

Sara L. Kaufman, Dance Critic


The new Misty Copeland Barbie doll. Photographer Dennis Di Laura
Stylist Sheryl Fetrick

On Monday, Mattel rolled out a Barbie doll modeled on ballerina Misty Copeland, who broke the color barrier at American Ballet Theatre last summer when she was promoted to the top rank of principal dancer, a first for an African American woman.

So why doesn’t the Barbie look like her?…

Read the entire article here.

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That awful moment parents of interracial children will probably face

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-27 17:25Z by Steven

That awful moment parents of interracial children will probably face

The Washington Post
2016-04-26

Nevin Martell

“Is that your son?” the man suddenly asked, without any preamble, and with an aggressive edge to his tone.

I was sitting in the dining area of a local Whole Foods after finishing the weekly shopping with my 3-year-old son, Zephyr. We were both eating and laughing about something silly, simply enjoying a Saturday morning together.

The unexpected question was from a 30-something African American man who had been giving me odd, furtive glances since we sat down. I figured that he thought he recognized me and was trying to jog his memory. I was certain we hadn’t met, so I was bracing myself for one of those semi-awkward, “No, sorry, I’m not who you think I am” conversations.

“Yes, this is my son,” I answered, a little warily.

“Hmph,” he snorted. “I didn’t think so.”

Now my defenses were fully up. “Why not?” I shot back.

He scrunched up his face, like he had just taken a bite of something distasteful. “There’s just something off about you two,” he said.

Frankly, I wanted to knock him senseless, but I restrained myself. Who says that to a complete stranger? How could he not see — for any number of reasons — that Zephyr and I were related? In my mind, there was only one reason why he would draw that conclusion.

“Is it because we don’t have the same skin color?” I challenged.

You see, I’m white and my Ghanaian wife is black, so our mixed-race son is golden brown…

Read the entire article here.

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‘A black president, yay’: 106-year-old finally meets the Obamas, dances like a schoolgirl

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-03-31 23:50Z by Steven

‘A black president, yay’: 106-year-old finally meets the Obamas, dances like a schoolgirl

The Washington Post
2016-02-22

Michael E. Miller, Morning Mix Reporter

Virginia McLaurin’s life isn’t easy. Last winter, she battled bedbugs in her D.C. apartment. This year, snowstorm “Snowzilla” trapped her inside for several days.

She also happens to be almost 107 years old.

None of that mattered last week when the centenarian stepped — nay, scampered — into the White House to meet President Obama and the first lady.

With the leader of the free world in one hand and Michelle Obama in the other, McLaurin danced with sheer and utter joy, shaking her hips like a 16-year-old and flashing a smile as bright as the camera flashes going off all around her.

“She’s 106?” the president asked incredulously.

“No, you are not,” scoffed the first lady, before adding: “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

The uplifting moment was also heavy with history, though. After her super-senior shuffle, McLaurin suddenly got serious.

“I thought I would never live to get in the White House,” said McLaurin, who was born in 1909 in South Carolina, worked as a seamstress for most of her life and has been a widow for more than 70 years.

But her amazement went beyond merely making it inside the hallowed building. She was particularly bowled over to be meeting America’s first African American president…

Read the entire article here.

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Who’s the most photographed American man of the 19th Century? HINT: It’s not Lincoln…

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-31 00:35Z by Steven

Who’s the most photographed American man of the 19th Century? HINT: It’s not Lincoln…

The Washington Post
2016-03-15

Jennifer Beeson Gregory

Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass would become one of the most well-known abolitionists, orators, and writers of his time. He understood and heralded not only the power of the written or spoken word, but also the power of the visual image — especially, his own likeness. He therefore sat for portraits wherever and whenever he could. As a result, Douglass was photographed more than any other American of his era: 160 distinct images (mostly portraits) have survived, more than Abraham Lincoln at 126. Many of these rare, historically significant images are published for the first time in “Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American,” by John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier.

This book shows all 160 photos and delves into Douglass’s life and passions, including photography. In his writings, Douglass praises Louis Daguerre, who invented the daguerreotype, which made the developing process easier and cheaper, and in turn made photography available to the masses. By the mid-19th century, there were portrait studios all over the Northern United States. Almost everyone in a free state could afford to have their picture taken — even non-whites. Douglass therefore called photography a “democratic art.”…


Unknown Photographer, Honeymoon with Helen Pitts in Niagara Falls, N.Y., August 1884. Albumen print (Frederick Douglass National Historic Site/National Park Service)

Read the entire article here.

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MSNBC severs ties with Melissa Harris-Perry after host’s critical email

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-28 22:37Z by Steven

MSNBC severs ties with Melissa Harris-Perry after host’s critical email

The Washington Post
2016-02-28

Paul Farhi, Media Reporter

MSNBC has parted ways with host Melissa Harris-Perry after she complained about preemptions of her weekend program and implied that there was a racial aspect to the cable-news network’s treatment, insiders at MSNBC said.

Harris-Perry refused to appear on her program Saturday morning, telling her co-workers in an email that she felt “worthless” to the NBC-owned network. “I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” wrote Harris-Perry, who is African American. “I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by [NBC executives] or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”

The rebuke, which became public when it was obtained by the New York Times, has triggered discussions involving the network, Harris-Perry and her representatives about the terms of her departure, said people at MSNBC, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Harris-Perry’s departure has not been formally announced…

..All of the changes carry a potential perception risk that MSNBC — known as the most liberal among the three leading cable-news networks — is diminishing the contributions of its minority personalities, network officials acknowledge. In addition to the issues with Harris-Perry and Diaz-Balart, the network’s new emphasis on news during the day has led to the demotion of two African American hosts: the Rev. Al Sharpton and Joy Reid, both of whom have been moved from daily shows to lower-profile weekend slots. (Reid assumed Harris-Perry’s hosting duties on Saturday.)…

Read the entire article here.

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This photo of Obama and a little visitor at a Black History Month celebration is remarkable

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-02-21 23:34Z by Steven

This photo of Obama and a little visitor at a Black History Month celebration is remarkable

The Washington Post
2016-02-20

Janell Ross


Clark Reynolds, 3, is greeted by President Obama during a Black History Month Celebration held Feb.18, 2016, at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Pete Souza/White House)

For 3-year-old Clark Reynolds, Thursday began like most others.

Morning preparations gave way to hours at school and then a visit to his mother’s office to change into a suit and tie. Clark’s mother, Nichole Francis Reynolds, is a former congressional staffer who now works in the private sector. Friends had secured an invitation for Francis Reynolds and her son to the White House’s Black History Month celebration, the final gathering of its kind while the first black president remains in office. But Francis Reynolds had told Clark only that he had earned a special treat. He is, after all, only 3.

What Clark does know is the president’s name, his face when he sees Obama on TV and the sound of President Obama’s voice when it comes through the satellite radio in his dad’s car. Then, there’s Clark’s favorite book, the one that he almost always picks when it’s reading time. Clark has been through the “The White House Pop-Up Book” by Chuck Fischer so many times that, almost as soon as Clark and his mother walked onto the White House grounds Thursday, Clark knew where they were…

Read the entire article here.

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