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?…

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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…

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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…

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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)

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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.)…

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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…

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Black like her: Is racial identity a state of mind?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-19 20:13Z by Steven

Black like her: Is racial identity a state of mind?

The Washington Post
2015-06-16

Amy Ellis Nutt, Reporter

While people continue to question the motivations behind former NAACP official Rachel Dolezal’s claiming she is black, scientists say identity, even racial identity, doesn’t arise from any single place in the brain.

Individuals contain different selves, often contradictory selves, according to neuroscientists. There is no clump of gray matter or nexus of electrical activity in the brain that we can point to and say, “this is me, this is where my self is located.” Instead, we are spread out over our brain, with different areas of cortex controlling different aspects of who we are, from what we see and hear to how we think and feel.

For instance, the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain located just behind the forehead, is activated whenever we think about ourselves. But when we think about how someone else thinks about us — does my spouse think I’m pretty? — the medial prefrontal cortex disengages and the posterior part lights up. Culture and community, neuroscience tells us is, are important constituents of identity, which may explain why children understand social interactions before they even learn to talk. Identity, in other words, is complicated.

Carolyn Yoon, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, says she doesn’t “see what the big controversy is” regarding Dolezal’s claim to identify as a black person.

“That’s a reasonable view in my book,” Yoon said. “Identity is highly malleable and is a function of what she comes in contact with, what she spends her time doing, is interested in and motivated by. Over time that will change your brain.”…

…There is certainly historical precedence for passing as black. Effa Manley was born to Bertha Brooks, a white woman, in Philadelphia in 1900. Brooks was married to an African-American man and so Effa grew up with six biracial siblings. She, however, was the product of an affair her mother had with a white man. Although blonde-haired, hazel-eyed Effa believed she also was biracial until her teens when her mother told her the truth.

Nonetheless, Effa lived our her life as a black woman: she married an African American, lived in Harlem and became the well-known co-owner of a Negro League baseball team. She also belonged to the NAACP and the Urban League and was once profiled in Ebony magazine.

Whether it was her early life experiences, self-deception or mirror neurons — or all three — Effa Manley saw herself as a black woman, which is why she could muse to a reporter when she was in her 70s, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to associate with white people.”…

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Obama’s skin looks a little different in these GOP campaign ads

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-12-31 02:12Z by Steven

Obama’s skin looks a little different in these GOP campaign ads

The Washington Post
2015-12-29

Max Ehrenfreund

A new study shows that negative ads targeting President Obama in 2008 depicted him with very dark skin, and that these images would have appealed to some viewers’ racial biases.

The finding reinforces charges that some Republican politicians seek to win votes by implying support for racist views and ethnic hierarchies, without voicing those prejudices explicitly. The purported tactic is often called “dog-whistle politics” — just as only canines can hear a dog whistle, only prejudiced voters are aware of the racist connotations of a politician’s statement, according to the theory…

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Old Dixie Highway renamed President Barack Obama Highway in Florida city

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-12-20 03:15Z by Steven

Old Dixie Highway renamed President Barack Obama Highway in Florida city

The Washington Post
2015-12-19

Elahe Izadi, Reporter


Workers install a new sign in Riviera Beach, Fla., on Thursday. (City of Riviera Beach)

Old Dixie Highway is no more in Riviera Beach, Fla. Instead, motorists are driving on President Barack Obama Highway.

Riviera Beach officials renamed the portion of the highway in their city limits, and the new sign carrying the name of the nation’s first black president went up Thursday. Old Dixie, officials said, paid homage to an era that glorified slavery.

The name was “symbolic of racism, symbolic of the Klan, symbolic of cross burnings, and today we are stepping up to a new day, a new era,” Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters told WPTV on Thursday.

The street itself carried a painful history for some. Dora Johnson, 77, told the television station that she once witnessed a cross-burning on Old Dixie Highway. Johnson will be given the old sign that has been removed, Masters told the Palm Beach Post.

The city council’s August vote to rename Old Dixie came at a time when many communities in the South were reconsidering Confederate flags and monuments. A national debate over such symbols began anew following the June shooting of nine parishioners by a white gunman inside a historic black church in South Carolina

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Why I want my interracial son to play with Legos

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-27 20:45Z by Steven

Why I want my interracial son to play with Legos

The Washington Post
2015-11-27

Nevin Martell

“Come build with me,” says my 2-year-old son Zephyr, beckoning me to join him on the living room floor next to a giant bin full of Lego bricks.

He pats the finished wood next to him, smiles widely and then turns back to his tinkering.

Who could refuse? I plunk down and take a look at his creation, a multicolored spaceship that he swoops through the air while energetically “whooshing.”

“That’s awesome,” I tell him, before digging in the mix of bricks to start building my own starfighter. Mixed in are a slew of minifigures, some assembled just like the picture on the package, but my little Dr. Frankenstein has reimagined many of them as completely new characters: a lightsaber wielding alien, a knight sporting a pirate’s tricorn hat and a gargoyle with an astronaut’s helmeted head.

Some have specialized heads with a variety of human skin tones, while others mimic more fantastical characters. However, the majority of them are bright yellow. That’s one of the things I love about the Danish toys: the original minifigures were designed with yellow heads and hands so they would be completely inclusive.

Many people incorrectly believe that this sunny skin tone is intended to represent a Caucasian cast, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s the opposite. The unnatural shade is intended to set Lego minifigures apart from a specific segment of humanity. “They’re designed to be citizens of the world,” says Michael McNally senior manager of brand relations for Lego. “The intent is for kids to project their own stories and identity into this figure.”

In other words: use your imagination, kids!…

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