Charles Ramsey, the Clevelander who dropped his Big Mac and rescued the three kidnapped girls from a house in his neighborhood, was appropriately treated with worship for not looking the other way.
McDonald's tells Cleveland hero 'they'll be in touch' as he gives another unforgettable interview about the abduction rescue (Daily Mail)
Charles Ramsey hailed as hero for role in helping Amanda Berry escape (Guardian)
Is this truly an admiration for a hero? Let the debate begin!
Slate says today that the viral nature of Ramsey's interviews reflects "a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform."
Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the "ghetto," socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Image from judgementalmaps.com
You've probably seen this map on at least one of your social media feeds since it was posted last week. The map stereotyping neighborhoods in Minneapolis was inspired by the work of Trent Gillaspie, a Denver-based comedian.
He told the Strib in a story published today:
"I moved around a lot, and when people asked where I lived, I was able to tell the name of the neighborhood or what kind of neighborhood it was," he said. "But then I got to saying, 'We live in taco cart headquarters,' and people would say, 'Oh, yeah, I know exactly where that is.' It was not something racial or cultural, more of an identifier. It was meant to be lighthearted, satirical, joking. So if you make fun of everyone, you don't get any flak."
The Minneapolis map, made by a local woman, certainly got flak. She removed her name from it after negative comments like this one:
"I understand that this is an attempt at satire, but it's still satire from a place of privilege, that's my point. People of color aren't given the privilege to define their own communities in a positive, or even complex manner, to the outside world, while white people are able to define not only their own communities, but also other people's. That's exactly what the creator of this map is doing, all intentions aside."
Race dominated most of the discussion, not surprisingly. But the usefulness of stereotypes in general deserves some thought, I think. Stereotypes are quick generalizations that contain some truth, but leave out details and nuance.
Do you want to know what it's really like somewhere else? Go there. Talk to people who live there. Heck, move there. I understand that what's different is what's interesting. It's when differences are all that is discussed that I get worried.
"The important thing is that we need to understand there are stereotypes that exist," Gillaspie told the StarTribune.
While this is true, I don't see how repeating stereotypes helps us understand, or learn, anything.(13 Comments)
She'll get none of the coverage in the news, but the best speech at today's interfaith service in Boston didn't come from President Obama or any other politician. It came from this woman: Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church.
The choice of Walker to lead off today's ceremony couldn't possibly have been accidental. She is as much an icon of the city as any of the others we've heard this week. She was a long-time TV anchor, the first African American woman anchor in the city. And she wasn't on the B-squad; she was the prime-time anchor.
And that was a big deal back then because Boston has a racist past (and probably a present, too, if we're being honest) and her ascension to the position came not long after Boston's struggle with school desegregation -- at least as measured in social-change years.
When she got pregnant, she was unmarried and there were plenty of shameful calls for her to step down. This was -- is -- Boston, where Puritan values still have strong roots.
She eventually left the station to pursue her theology degree at Harvard Divinity School.
She was a great choice to speak, and the fact she spoke elegantly from her heart was a bonus.(0 Comments)
It's hard to know where to start with the list of things that are wrong in the wake of a story out of New York City today.
A teacher had students write math problems, the students wrote math problems about slaves, the teacher handed out the problems, and there are some parents -- some parents -- who wonder what the big deal is?
The teacher involved will apparently be disciplined in some fashion.
A computer scientist at Harvard writes that any searches involving black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads suggestive of a criminal record than white-sounding names.
For her paper, Latanya Sweeney collected about 2000 names suggestive of race. She used the names in Google and Reuters searches and reported that black-identifying names were more likely to generate ads that including the word "arrest." (Here's a sample of the search results)
Coincidence? She claims there's a 0.1 per cent chance that the ads were generated by chance.
First names, assigned at birth to more black or white babies, are found predictive of race (88% black, 96% white), and those assigned primarily to black babies, such as DeShawn, Darnell and Jermaine, generated ads suggestive of an arrest in 81 to 86 percent of name searches on one website and 92 to 95 percent on the other, while those assigned at birth primarily to whites, such as Geoffrey, Jill and Emma, generated more neutral copy: the word "arrest" appeared in 23 to 29 percent of name searches on one site and 0 to 60 percent on the other. On the more ad trafficked website, a black-identifying name was 25% more likely to get an ad suggestive of an arrest record. A few names did not follow these patterns. All ads return results for actual individuals and ads appear regardless of whether the name has an arrest record in the company's database.
A Google spokesperson, however, tells MIT Technology Review the company's Ad Words program does not engage in racial profiling.2 Comments)
The area has certainly had more than its share of news stories about racial problems over the years.
The city, of course, was the home of the 1920 lynchings of three black circus workers.
A few weeks ago, someone hung an effigy of President Obama from a prominent Duluth electronic billboard.
And two years ago, some white University of Minnesota Duluth students ganged up on a black student via Facebook.
So it should come as little surprise that a racist video on YouTube has its roots in the city. It was, the UMD Statesman reports, produced by one current University of Minnesota Duluth student and one former student.
The two are shown in blackface -- they say it was a facial -- while making disparaging comments about African Americans.
The video has since been taken down and the students -- Rachel Cooper and Jessica Heid -- said they're sorry for anyone it offends.
That would be everyone who's not racist, ladies.(6 Comments)
It's a stunning poll that the Associated Press released today on one of the most invisible news days of the week. More than half of all Americans have negative attitudes toward African Americans, it says.
Though it's within the margin of error of a similar poll in 2008, it confirms there is no such thing as post-racial America.
"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor, told the AP. He worked with the news organization to develop the survey.
Fifty-one percent of Americans express explicit anti-black attitudes, it says. About 52 percent have anti-Hispanic attitudes.
The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).
"These findings should not surprise anybody," political reporter Ron Fournier writes in the National Journal today. "Whether you're white, black or brown, ask yourself: Do you harbor racial attitudes you wouldn't share in pleasant company? You almost certainly have friends or relatives whose honest views on race make you wince. Does anybody really believe we've made the full journey to racial equality?"
Judged only by the poll results, however, it's hard to say there's been any movement on the journey to racial equality, at least in the last four years. The survey shows that electing a black president caused a backlash against African Americans in particular.(16 Comments)
"The genocide of my people is almost complete," Russell Means said in this 2009 interview.
Means, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement, died early today.
The Latino vote is increasingly recognized as important in U.S. elections. The number of Hispanics eligible to vote is now up to 11% of the electorate. But Hispanics tend not to vote and not to think about voting to the same degree that other groups do, a survey out today says.
The Pew Research Center says 61 percent of the Latino voters surveyed say they've thought a lot about the election, an unfavorable comparison to the registered voters in the electorate.
The study also points out that the turnout rate for eligible Latinos tends to lag historically and it probably will this year, too. Seventy-seven percent of Latinos surveyed say they are "absolutely certain" they will vote this year. Eighty-nine percent of all registered voters in the survey say they will.
And the Voter ID laws that are in effect. Most don't think that will affect them, the respondents said. And most Latinos favor the idea.
One recent development that could potentially have an impact on the Latino turnout rate is the passage of state laws that require voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. This year 11 states--Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Tennessee--have such laws in effect.1 Together, these states are home to 15% of all Latino eligible voters.2
According to the new survey, fully 97% of all Latino registered voters--as well as a nearly identical 95% of Latino registered voters in those 11 states--say they are confident they have the identification they will need to vote on Election Day.
The survey also finds broad support among Latino registered voters for voter photo ID laws; 71% favor them, nearly as high a share as among the general public (77%).4 Comments)
Songwriter Randy Newman is calling out what he sees as racism in the presidential campaign.
The Associated Press today reports Newman, an Obama supporter, released a protest song today, to confront racism in American politics.
"It's delicate enough that I'm not going to offend people every which way, but I wanted to get it right as best I could," Newman told the AP, which said he's worried there may be some backlash against the song.(4 Comments)
"I just--I don't like him. Can't stand to look at him. I don't like his wife. She's far from the first lady. It's about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady and looks like a first lady." -- Bobbie Lucie, a veteran's wife, at the American Legion convention.
NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos writes today that the comment "set off alarm bells" in the public radio audience.
Is it hate speech or do we just have the sensitivity meter turned up way too high in this too-long-for-the-human-body-to-stand presidential campaign?
Some listeners saw a meaning in the comment. "Looks like a first lady" is code for "being white."
Here's the story in question...
From the way Schumacher-Matos challenged reporter Ari Shapiro to defend the use of the quote -- "I asked Shapiro about his decision to include Lucie's comment and whether it was NPR's responsibility to keep racist opinions off the air. " -- it sounds as though he had already concluded that it was a racist comment.
But Republicans said the same thing about a white woman in 1980 -- Rosalind Carter.
In this case, Schumacher-Matos points out, the meaning of the quote is ambiguous and NPR's directory of diversity suggests a reporter failure...
If there's a problem here, it's not that the comments are racist. The problem is, I don't know if they're racist. I don't know, in fact, what the woman meant when she said any of that. I have a strong suspicion, but I could be completely wrong. When she said she couldn't stand the look of the president, was she talking about his race or his ears? When she implied that Mrs. Obama doesn't look like a first lady, did she mean that she's not white or did she dislike the way Mrs. Obama wears sleeveless dresses?
I believe a reporter's obligation here is to ask the question "What do you mean?" and either use the answer in the story or tell the listener whether the follow-up question led in one direction (racist) or another. Several people, including the woman now adjudged by many as a racist, have a stake in that question and answer. I can't tell from the piece whether the question was asked.
Here's the entire post. It's a good discussion although it's good to remember that it's 2012 and we're still having to have it in this country.(3 Comments)
"It was the clash of two great cultures that first found common ground, and then divided in fear, hatred, and misunderstanding."
I'm not entirely sure who wrote those words, read by Garrison Keillor in this tremendous TPT 1993 documentary about the Dakota Conflict of 1862 (we're guessing it was Kristian Berg). But it doesn't sound particularly irrelevant in 2012.
As Minnesota stopped this week to observe the 150th anniversary of the conflict, it's not a bad time to ask what parallels may/may not exist in 2012?
Our intrepid NewsCut reader/correspondent Ben Chorn tried to get down to East Fourth Street in Duluth quickly enough to get a picture of the defaced Un-Fair anti-racism campaign billboard. Someone had spraypainted " No Naggers" over the billboard, and painted a confederate flag.
But by the time Ben got there, the billboard company was leaving and had already replaced the intended message.
The original message of the anti-racism billboard was, "Ignore it and it won't go away."
There's irony here... somewhere.
On its Facebook page, a group opposed to the Un-Fair campaign condemned the vandalism, while saying it thinks it's part of the Un-Fair campaign.(10 Comments)
Duluth's "unfair" campaign, already a flashpoint for suggesting white people can't see the racism in the community, is again the target of some opponents following the latest PSA video.
The group CampusReform.org, claims it's obtained documents showing a backlash against the campaign on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. It did not present the documents online, however.
The campaign launched in January as an anti-racism effort targeting the role white people can play in addressing racial disparities.
(h/t: Paul Tosto)(22 Comments)
The Trayvon Martin story -- he's the kid who got killed for no good reason in Florida -- has reached the "I've got nothing left to write, so I'll just write something stupid" phase that many national issues reach.
The barometer for this is Geraldo Rivera, who blames the fact the kid was wearing a hoodie:
Remember when my friend and colleague the estimable Juan Williams got fired from NPR for saying that Muslims formally garbed freaked him out at airports? Juan is among America's sharpest commentators. He wasn't justifying his reaction, he was copping to it. Maybe shock therapy or a semester of sensitivity training could change it, otherwise It is what it is.
No one black, brown or white can honestly tell me that seeing a kid of color with a hood pulled over his head doesn't generate a certain reaction, sometimes scorn, often menace.
When you see that kid coming your way, unless you specifically recognize him you are thinking ghetto or ghetto wannabe high-style or low-brow wise-ass. Pedestrians cross the street to avoid black or brown hoodie wearers coming their way.
Because this is a teachable moment let me speak plainly.
Whatever Reverends Sharpton and Jackson say in Florida Friday, after listening to the 911 tapes and hearing the witness' testimonials, I believe Trayvon Martin would be alive today but for his hoodie.
What Rivera doesn't acknowledge, however, is this: You don't get to kill people because you're afraid of them. You don't get permission to shoot people because they dress like someone else who you don't like. So, no, his hoodie didn't get the young man killed.
Here's an interesting picture that's sweeping the Internet today.
Are you "suspicious" of them?
Check the picture "below the fold"
This is an interesting map the Census Bureau provided today showing the foreign-born population as a percentage of each state's population in 1970.
This is the same report in the 2010 Census:
Minnesota went from about 2.6% to over 7%.
Demographers Elizabeth Grieco and Rob Margetta were on C-SPAN today, with Grieco bringing up an interesting point: The percentage of the population that is foreign-born is lower than during the period of "the great migration."(2 Comments)
1. reluctant to give or spend; stingy; miserly.
2. meanly or ungenerously small or scanty: a niggardly tip to a waiter.
Tip? Here's a tip: Don't use this word; it'll get you fired even though there's nothing racist about the word, it just sounds too close to the "N-word" and the nation's reading scores aren't quite high enough to expect anything other than confusion when it's used.
Just ask two drug counselors in Broward County, Florida, one of whom has been fired and the other suspended for using the word that isn't the word that should automatically get them disciplined, according to SunSentinel.com.
"It's Kafkaesque," said Sam Fields, Suskind-Assidon's attorney. "How is she supposed to report something that isn't an offense?"
Tworetzky disputes the county report, but declined further comment.
Suskind-Assidon and Fields said that at an appeals hearing last week, county official Tom Hutka said "niggardly" was a word that could be misconstrued and he "wouldn't use it."
As a writer, I'd never use it either. Given its similarity to the combustible N-word, it could only lead to confusion and problems. But making it a firing offense seems over the top.
Suskind-Assidon said she called Tworetzky into the meeting with the substance-abuse client after she sensed the client was "holding back" in his recovery efforts.
According to Suskind-Assidon, Tworetzky told the client he was being "niggardly" about opening up. The client took offense. She said Tworetzky explained it and they later looked it up in the dictionary.
A few days later, the client filed a complaint. His identity was withheld by the county because of medical confidentiality laws.
The current situation in Florida sounds remarkably like the controversy that erupted in Washington DC in 1999 when an aide to the mayor was forced to resign after using it to describe budget funding. He was rehired after city officials acknowledged their lack knowledge of etymology, which -- for the record -- is not the same as entomology.(6 Comments)
Last weekend I went to Mixed Blood Theatre on the West Bank to see "Neighbors," and if I wouldn't be depriving someone else of a seat, I'd go see it again. For one thing, thanks to Mixed Blood's "radical hospitality" experiment, it's free. For another, this play is the real thing: theater that messes with your mind and makes you want to talk to somebody about it. The night I went, dozens of people stayed behind for the discussion period that follows every performance.
If you don't want to be offended, don't go. The play's offensive. A normal, modern-day, mixed-race family with ordinary problems gets new neighbors: an extended family of African-Americans in blackface who embody every racist canard you've ever heard of, and a few you probably haven't. (When "Mammy," the matriarch of Family B, bums a cigarette from the teen-age daughter of Family A, it turns out to be a Marlboro. Mammy takes a deep drag and says, "Honey, we got to get you some Newports.") The stereotypes tumbled over each other so fast that I couldn't help laughing -- which I almost regretted during the post-play discussion, when an African-American patron asked the white people in the audience how long it took them to realize they shouldn't be laughing. Gulp.
Three nights later, I sat in another audience, in another theater, during another discussion about race. MPR's Kerri Miller interviewed NPR's Michele Norris as part of the "One Minneapolis, One Read" program. (You can listen to that discussion here.) Once again, audience members seemed eager to share their perspectives on our supposedly post-racial society. Also once again, the people of color present didn't seem to think the prefix "post" applied too well. When Norris asked audience members how often they were conscious of their race when they were out in the world, a woman behind me whispered, "Every minute. Every second."
That the conversation is happening at all feels like a positive development, and it warms my theater- and public-radio-loving heart that two of my favorite institutions are at the middle of it. During the Michele Norris program at the Guthrie, a woman in the audience channeled Rodney King's wish that we could all just get along. "How do we do that?" she asked.
Norris answered: "We do this."(2 Comments)
Baseball purists tend to lament the over-reliance on statistics that have moved the enjoyment of the game from a sporting endeavor to a mathematical equation. While the baseball researchers have - correctly -- educated us about the weakness of judging a player by his batting average, they have also continued to introduce new statistical measurements that push the envelope of absurdity.
Can math prove racism? A study by researchers at Southern Methodist University is sure to ignite a debate over whether the race of players influences those statistics.
Researchers there have issued a paper that says white umpires call more strikes for white pitchers than non-whites.
Johan Sulaeman, a financial economist, at Southern Methodist University, analyzed 3.5 million pitches from 2004 to 2008 and found -- claimed -- that "minority pitchers scale back their performance to overcome racial/ethnic favoritism toward whites by MLB home plate umpires."
In other words: Because they weren't getting their pitches called strikes by the white umpires, minority pitchers had little choice but to throw more pitches "down the middle," giving them a distinct disadvantage when measured against white pitchers.
Among the researchers' findings, according to an SMU news release:
-- From the starting pitcher's perspective, a racial match with the umpire helped his statistics by yielding fewer earned runs, fewer hits and fewer home runs.
-- Because the majority of umpires are white, teams with minority pitchers have a distinct disadvantage in non-monitored parks.
-- There is no evidence that visiting managers adjusted their pitching lineups to minimize exposure of their minority pitchers to the subjective bias of a white umpire.
-- In parks where baseball hasn't installed cameras to monitor an umpire's ability, pitchers of the same race threw pitches that allowed umpires the most discretion, apparently to maximize their advantage stemming from the umpires' favoritism.
-- A batter who swings is less likely to get a hit when the umpire and pitcher match.
The researchers claimed that because their performance was undermined by white umpires, minority pitchers earn between $50,000 and $400,000 a year less than white pitchers.
It's comforting that the study found major league managers haven't adjusted their pitching rotations to favor white pitchers. But it's also possible that the reason they haven't is because they don't know about the study.
The next logical step in research to further prove an allegation of racism by umpires, is to examine the ball/strike calls based on the race of the batter.
In the meantime, it's important to remember there's a fair number of conclusions in the study that are based on assumptions.
(h/t: Chris Dall)(11 Comments)
No doubt it's only coincidence, but a day after the Pioneer Press wrote a first-rate article on how the Hispanic culture has revitalized Worthington, MN., Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon today announced an initiative to help his hometown -- in this case, Hazelton, PA. -- better accept Hispanics.
Maddon said he had the idea when he was home for Christmas last year and went to a community supper at a daycare center and saw adults sitting at the kids' table and the kids running around...
"And I thought to myself, 'That's what my family looked like back in the day,'" Maddon said. "That's what I remember of Sunday back in the '50s and '60s, my earliest memories, and it really struck me that we are missing the point. If we don't utilize this group of Hispanic people who want to be in our community, if we don't utilize them and their abilities to the fullest, our town is going to eventually die and go away.
"These people want to be there. They're wonderful people, and they're just exactly like we were back in the day -- down to the point that they don't speak very good English yet, some of them. Neither did my grandpa and grandma on both sides -- Polish and Italian."
"We are a country of different cultures that have grown into one," Maddon said. "What is the difference between now and when our forefathers came to this country centuries ago? "
Change Polish and Italian to Swedes and Norwegians, and Maddon could be talking about Worthington.
"It's just like when the Swedes and the Norwegians hit the shore here...." Sgt. Kevin Flynn, of the Worthington Police Department, told the Pioneer Press. 'You have to have some generational growth before people were actually on the same page. And you're actually seeing that now."
The article said Hispanics in Worthington -- at least the ones the PiPress talked to -- feel "welcomed," but it also quoted a business owner who plans to retire and move out. "In the future here, I know the city of Worthington's going to have a lot of problems. I don't want to be here for it. We're fooling ourselves if we think we're going to be OK," he said.
And it's clear in the comments section -- where else? -- that Worthington isn't a success story yet, at least to the outside world.
"People don't want to go downtown because you there's hardly a single sign in ENGLISH!" one wrote.
It's going to take a little more time and at least a few more baseball managers.(3 Comments)
The video of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defending an appointment to the New Jersey Superior Court is starting to catch fire on the Intertubes.
Sohail Mohammed, 47, was sworn into the job last week, despite criticism that a Muslim judge could lead the way to the influence of Sharia law.
Christie didn't mix words about what was at work in the criticism.
Christie is rumored to be interested in running for president someday.
"So now it's for sure --he ain't running," a local commenter on Facebook noted today.(5 Comments)
Clara Luper never attained the widespread fame of Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement. She never became the household word that Parks deservedly did.
But someone had to lead the first sit-in to protest the exclusion of blacks in public places. That someone was Clara Luper. In 1958, she and about a dozen others ordered cold drinks at a lunch counter in Oklahoma City.
Clara Luper has died.
We posed the question to sources in our Public Insight Network, on Facebook and online: Who are you?
The responses we received offer a fascinating glimpse into how we define ourselves even as the definitions themselves change:
Who I am is as old as America. Mixed race: while it is being acknowledged in ways that are slightly different, it is nothing new. Why only now are we talking about the mixed composition of people's complexion and ethnicity when it has been the reality for most Americans, especially African Americans for the past 400 years? I am--my son is America. We come from the African and European Diasporas as well as the indigenous peoples of this continent. People will call my son and I African American. It seems that we should not have to talk about this, but in America, we do. The discussion continues.
-Clarence White, St. Paul (he blogs here)
I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. I moved with my family in 1997 when I was 16 and I have lived in Rochester and now in Burnsville. I'm married to a girl from Mexico as well and we have four children we are a very traditional family with very strong Spanish background. We have adopted the American culture as our own and we are teaching our children to understand and to care for both cultures, the Spanish and the American, so they can benefit from this changing environment and take advantage of the opportunities of being multicultural as I have. We also own a small business so we teach our children to work hard and reach their goals and do their part to live the American dream. -Luis Magallon, Rochester
I am a Lebanese Christian American woman married to a Berber Muslim Algerian American man. In other words, an Arab Christian married to a Non-Arab Muslim. Every day of my life I am mindful of my race and ethnicity. I am extremely proud to be an Arab. Very proud of my loving, generous and hardworking immigrant husband. And very aware of the perceptions the outside world has of "people like us."
-Lorie Haddad, Minneapolis
I'm an Irish-Catholic, fourth-generation St. Paulite. Have lived in only two zip codes in my life, and they are contiguous. My Irish-Catholic ethnicity is very much tied to place--St. Paul. My parents, grandparents and nearly all my friends are from St. Paul. My baptism & first communion, my sister's wedding, and both of my parent's funerals were held in the same church (Nativity). I could never live anywhere else. -Paul Bard, St. Paul
I am a white Minnesotan of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Kentuckian descent whose Scandinavian relatives have farmed in this area for over five generations (there is even a family cemetery in southern Minnesota) and whose rapscallion relatives have roamed the Iowan countryside teaching and inciting subtle feminism. I am a linguist and returned Peace Corps volunteer. I am a teacher of English to immigrants and refugees. I am an atheist and secular humanist. I am the mother of a nine-month-old baby whose father is half Mexican, half French Creole but considers himself simply American.
-Sarah Hernandez, Plymouth
I am a student and sometimes teacher. I don't feel overwhelmingly attached to any of my ethnic backgrounds, of which there are at least four. I am American, female, raised middle class with college-educated parents. I'm the youngest of three, creative and moody, I like spicy food and I'm picky about movies. That description could fit many of my peers from many cities, no matter their convoluted combination of ethnicities. -Leah Hunczak, St. Cloud
When one is raised tri-culturally as we are (an ethnic minority growing up in a transracial household in the upper midwest), the question of identification can be a loaded question. The answer I give depends on who YOU are and how you ask me. But for the purpose of this poll, I am Rupa: an East Indian adoptee.
I am a 31 year-old mother of two and wife to a great guy. We are both of German descent and feel that keeping that alive in our children is important. But we are Americans first. -Melissa Timm, Hampton
I'm black and in a inter-racial marriage. My kids are bi-racial. We celebrate Loving Day every year. Our relatives and friends are in similar relationships. We chose a faith community that is multi-culturally inclusive. It's our generational new norm however, being the one blessed with the most melanin in our family, I'm patently aware of clueless, insensitive jerks.
With the passing of my mother in 2009, I inherited her copious family files. The prize, a family bible with live births going back to the 1860s. I've also learned from a land deed out of Baton Rouge, LA that my great grandmother and her brother purchased plots of land after the war. They were creole. Freed. And I seized on their identity. In today's lexicon, my kin are seen as being separate from both black and white races. And we, my present-day family has an outward racial identity that seems to give people social cues that don't work with us. Because they no longer apply.
-Rachel Dykoski, Minneapolis
I'm a first generation Hmong French American immigrant woman who is married to a white American man of Polish descent. I am conscious of my cultural heritage and the impact of my outward characteristics (skin color, accent, racial group, etc.). I make a point to be a good ambassador for my community by debunking myths/stereotypes with my choices and lifestyles and aspirations while celebrating the richness of my culture without mystifying it. -Kao Yongvang, Minneapolis
We also spoke with a few people who responded for tonight's All Things Considered. Give a listen:
So, who are you? Tell us here.
Here's the latest we have from multiple sources on the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and her staff. We're not going to engage in speculation, but are providing information about what we know as fact. The latest items are at the top.
10:25 p.m. - Beefed up security was observed at an inaugural ball for Gov. Mark Dayton. Several members of Congress attended.
10:20 p.m. - One late update. The Arizona Republic identified the 9-year-old girl who was killed as Christina Taylor Green of Tucson:
A neighbor was going to the Giffords event and invited Christina along because she thought she would enjoy it, said her uncle, Greg Segalini.
Christina had just been elected to the student council at her school. The event, held outside a Safeway supermarket north of Tucson, was an opportunity for constituents to meet Giffords and talk about any concerns they had related to the federal government.
7:40 p.m. - That's the end of the briefing. Another will be held tomorrow. Here's the takeaway:
-- 19 people were shot; 6 died.
-- the sheriff stressed the connection between "vitriolic rhetoric" in the media and today's shooting.
-- they're looking for another person who may be involved.
This will conclude today's live-blogging. Feel free to discuss the situation below.
7:38 p.m. - Dr. Richard Carmona, a former surgeon general and friend of the Giffords family, is speaking. He did not illuminate the extent of the congresswoman's injuries other than it's a head wound. He said he did not know yet whether there will be any long-term brain damage.
7:33 p.m. - Sheriff: "People tend to pooh pooh what we're saying about the vitriol by the people who are doing that. That may be free speech, but it has consequences."
7:29 p.m.- Now speaking, Capt. Chris Nanos, in charge of criminal investigations for the county sheriff.
Q: Did the 9 year old die at the hospital?
Q: At what range were the shots fired?
A: Very close.
Q: Was he just spraying bullets?
A: I can't get into specifics.
7:11 p.m. - Sheriff: There are 19 victims, six of whom are dead. One is a 9-year old girl.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Q: Was the congresswoman the target?
Q: Had she been receiving threats
A: I'm not aware of any public officials who haven't received threats. She had two incidents during a vitriolic campaign. Someone in an angry audience dropped a weapon out of their pants. Around the same time, windows were broken at her headquarters.
Q: Tell us more about the suspect
A: He's got a troubled past. "When you look at the rhetoric that comes out of people's mouths, it's outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona is the capital. We've become the mecca of intolerance and bigotry." This person had a mental issue and was susceptible to vitriol.
Q: Were all 19 shot?
A: Yes. It was an automatic weapon. We're not going to get into specifics.
Q: Was the other suspect a shooter?
Q: Is security being upgraded for other elected officials.
A: No. It's not unusual for every public official to get threats. And that's the other thing: Pretty soon we're not going to be able to get real, decent people to serve in public office.
Q: Was there any return fire from anyone?
Q: Did the shooter say anything.
A: We don't have any specifics about what he might or might not have said.
Q: Where do you think the other suspect is heading?
A: We don't know where he's heading. We don't know who he is.
Q: What was the shooter's complaint? Was it illegal immigration?
A: I don't know. He has invoked his rights.
Q: The individuals who tackled the suspect, can you say with certainty that they prevented more deaths?
A: I don't know if he had any ammunition left but he probably would've shot more people.
Q: What sort of troubled had he been in before?
A: He made threats. (Not against the congresswoman)
Q: Was he planning to kill himself?
A: We think that may be a possibility.
Q: Was the 9 year old girl with her parents. Was she a relative of the Giffords?
A: We don't have that information. This was a chaotic scene and they've gone to different hospitals. It's been difficult to sort all of these things out.
Q: Was there any suicide note found?
A: I can't talk about that.
Q: How many people were killed at the scene as opposed to died at the hospital?
Q: Were all the people who were shot attending the event?
A: I don't know.
7:10 p.m. - Nathan Thomas Gray, special agent in charge of the FBI in Arizona is speaking. "The events of today not only affect the citizens of Arizona and the families involved, it touches the hearts of Americans throughout the United States."
7:09 p.m. - Sheriff: "We're not convinced the suspect acted alone. We have reason to believe he came to the scene with someone else." Not naming the suspect.
7:05 p.m. Dupnik: Five people were killed. Two were friends of the sheriff. One was a councilwoman. The federal judge went to mass before stopping in to "say hi" to the congresswoman. "I never met a more sincere, brilliant, fair-minded judge in my life. He goes to mass daily and he was going to go home and do the floors as he did every Saturday."
"Congresswoman Giffords is brilliant. She's not about Democrats or Republicans. She's not about politics. All she cares about is the United States of America. Today, I hope all Americans are as saddened as shocked as we are. I hope some of them are as angry as I am. I think it's time as a country that we need to do a little soul searching. The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out by people in the radio business and some in the TV business, this has not become the nice United States of America that we grew up in."
7:03 p.m. -Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik is holding a news conference. "In my 50 years in law enforcement, I've never been so shocked as I am today. It's a sad day for America.
6:47 p.m. - Rep. Erik Paulsen was in a Young Leaders Foundation program with Rep. Giffords. He talked with MPR's Brandt Williams this afternoon.
6:38 p.m. - The Pima County sheriff is holding a briefing at 7 p.m. I'll monitor.
6:36 p.m. - This Arizona Republic observer of media has thoughts on the coverage today:
But what makes it so powerful can also make it dangerous. There are no filters. While conflicting reports of Giffords' condition were hardly unique to social media - often people just tweeted or posted what they had heard from traditional news sources, which scrambled to get the facts straight - the immediate political slant was striking. Within minutes the shootings were decried as politically motivated, an inevitable result of violent rhetoric. Maybe they will prove to be. Certainly using terms like "crosshairs" and "target" in political discourse, if you could call it that, is idiotic. Those who have used such terms were called out immediately and often. Perhaps this will change the behavior of those who use such language - though anyone who has paid attention to politics the past few years has every reason to be doubtful.
However, people also immediately assigned political motive to the shootings, as if it was a given that the suspect was acting solely out of partisan disagreement with Giffords' policies. Again, perhaps he was. But to say so before law enforcement has even talked to the guy is, to put it diplomatically, irresponsible.
I had some debate about this earlier on Twitter, with some suggesting this is just the way the new journalism is. But is it? A fact transmits by new media just as quickly as a falsehood. Facts should not be collateral damage. To the extent that information changes quickly, it's important to ask "how do you know?" in any breaking news situation and, more important, to attribute the source of information to a source. In this case, it would appear, someone who was not willing to be identified was responsible for the apparently false information. That should have been the first clue that the information may not have been reliable.
The truth is: We still don't know about Rep. Giffords' condition and, according to doctors, we won't know for 24 hours from the time of her surgery. Not being willing to wait that long doesn't give anyone an excuse to create a reality. "I don't know," should never go out of style as the best possible answer in the absence of facts.
5:06 p.m. - Background: Rep. Giffords was on FoxNews yesterday:
4:50 p.m. - Statement from U.S. Capitol Police:
The United States Capitol Police are directly involved in the ongoing investigation regarding the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. We are currently working with Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
While the United States Capitol Police does not specifically discuss the security of Members of Congress including details on our protective measures, the United States Capitol Police has communicated with House Members of Congress advising them to take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security.
The United States Capitol Police remains at a high level of readiness, consistent with our operating conditions on U.S. Capitol Grounds, and we continue to maintain a robust presence.
4:33 p.m. - Statement from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN:
"Congresswoman Giffords was doing what so many public servants do every day, meeting with her constituents, listening to the people who sent her to Washington. This is a horrific tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her husband, family, and the other victims."
4:27 p.m. - Federal Judge John Roll, who was killed today, was placed in federal protection (along with his wife) after death threats in 2009. He was presiding judge in a lawsuit against a rancher by immigrants, according to Arizona Central.
4:09 p.m. - U.S. District Court judge John Roll once ruled the Brady Bill (gun control law that required sheriffs to perform background checks) is unconstitutional. His ruling, however, was later overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
3:59 p.m. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is speaking. "I am just heartbroken. Gabby is not just a colleague; she's also a friend. We never could have imagined this could have taken place," she says. "Pray that we never have to experience a tragedy like this again."
The representative was in the Arizona House of Representatives when Brewer was in the secretary of state's office.
3:46 p.m. -President Obama is speaking to the nation. He confirms the death of Judge Rohn Roll. Says Rep. Giffords "is fighting for her life."
"We don't know what precipitated this unspeakable act," he says.
"It's not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does -- listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That's what democracy is all about. It's a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country. What Americans do at times like this is come together and support each other."
The president did not take questions.
3:41 p.m. - KPNX TV coverage of the story (Phoenix)
3:36 p.m. - This YouTube account is from a person with the name AP is reporting has been arrested in the shooting. Warning: There is no confirmation that this is, indeed, the work of the individual who has been arrested. (It is likely not since the name is spelled differently)
3:34 p.m. From NPR political editor Ken Rudin's blog:
What is also unsurprising, but regrettable, is that everyone is ascribing a motive for the shooting without any credible information.
The Internet and the Twitterworld have been filled with speculation on why she was shot: that she was too liberal and was shot by a Tea Party conservative. Or that she was too moderate and shot by someone on the left.
All we know is that the shooter is under custody. No statement has been released, no motive revealed. Self-anointed "journalists" should keep such opinions to themselves until we know more.
3:28 p.m. - Statement from Sen. John McCain, R-AZ:
"I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.
"Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."
3:23 p.m. - Surgeon in Tucson says Rep. Giffords is "understanding commands." The bullet exited her head, he said.
3:21 p.m. - Rep. Giffords on election night:
3:14 p.m. - The person arrested in the shooting is Jared Laughner of Arizona, Justice Department officials say.
3:00 p.m. - A doctor at University Medical Center in Tucson hospital his hospital has 10 patients. One has died. Five are critical. Five are in the operating room. Rep. Giffords is out of surgery. The doctor says he's "very optimistic" about her prognosis. The dead person was a 9 year old child.
2:56 p.m. - U.S. Judge John Roll is reportedly one of those killed. He had recently called for a delay in trials for people accused of felonies because of overworked courts in Arizona.
2:54 p.m. - A spokesman for the sheriff (Pima County) says there will be a news conference at 5 p.m. CT. Death toll remains at 6. Rep. Giffords is in surgery.
2:47 p.m.- This graphic, posted on Sara Palin's PAC website, is being criticized after the shooting as an example of rhetoric that heightened emotions in the fall campaign. There is, as yet, no indication from authorities on a motive for today's attack:
The graphic was controversial during the campaign.
2:43 p.m. - Statement from President Obama:
"This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.
"We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers."
2:37 p.m. - Rep. Giffords posted this image on her Flickr page last fall, while in the middle of a heated campaign with a tea party member.
"Gabrielle Giffords owns a Glock handgun, and as a two-term Democratic congresswoman representing a swing district in Arizona's rugged southeast, she may need one Newsweek quipped in a profile of "gun runners" in the runup to the election of 2008.
2:34 p.m. - Six people are dead. Eighteen people were shot. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is at this point listed as "gravely injured." One person is in custody."(10 Comments)
Posted at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2010
by Drew Geraets
Filed under: Race
The maps are based on data from the 2000 census and each dot represents 25 people.
Red=White | Blue=Black | Green=Asian | Orange=Hispanic | Gray=Other
(h/t Robert Niles)
Jen Erickson, a University of Oregon anthropology doctoral student, didn't need to return to Bosnia to find the perfect place to study the culture. She only had to go to Fargo.
The Luverne, Minnesota native spent the 2006-2007 academic year studying Bosnians and Sudanese, who have fled their homeland and settled in a white, Christian community.
She's been putting her dissertation together, which considers what we think makes for a worthy citizen and why some cultures meet our standard better than others.
Q: Why Fargo?
A: It started in Bosnia. I lived in bosnia for two years and I learned to speak the Bosnian language. When I came back, I was wondering what I was going to do with my life and I found a job working for Lutheran Social Services in Sioux Falls; I worked as a case manager there for about a year and a half before I went to graduate school. And when I went to graduate school, through various classes and critiquing the discipline of anthropology and having to go elsewhere, I had gone elsewhere, I enjoyed it, it was a wonderful experience, but after working with refugees in the U.S., I decided I should do my doctoral dissertation in my own backyard.
Then I came upon Fargo because the work I did in Bosnia, I worked with a lot of Roma -- or gypsies -- and over half of the Bosnia refugees in Fargo are actually Roma. But they're only about 10 percent of the population in Bosnia, so it made a nice comparison to some of my previous work.
Q: Were there things you learned as a case manager here, working with Bosnian refugees, that you didn't know in Bosnia?
A: Yes, definitely. The connection, the challenges that refugees face in the United States is very different from what Bosnians face in post-war Bosnia, as they were trying to acclimate and adjust to a very consumer-driven society. And the one and only goal of refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. is pushed toward economic self-sufficiency. And by that they mean economic self-sufficiency from the state; not relying on any welfare, or government handouts, if you will.
I think that was very different for Bosnians, coming from a former Communist country. And then a lot of the Bosnians who had some of the biggest difficulties were those who had been of a middle- or upper-class-level status. Like so many other people coming to the United States, that class status is not acknowledged here. They were kind of all grouped in to this group of refugees.
Q: What was your experience with the Sudanese prior to Fargo?
A: I actually knew almost nothing about Sudan until I started working as a case manager and started working with a lot of Sudanese as clients, and so were a lot of my co-workers at LSS. When I heard about the atrocities that have been happening in Sudan since, basically, the 1950s and how little I knew about it, I was embarrassed for my lack of knowledge, first of all, but then really compelled to continue working with them and really supporting them in various projects that they wanted to do.
As a case worker, I saw that the case workers have a pretty difficult job in that they take clients to schools, medical clinics, welfare agencies, job sites. They're dealing with family disputes and going to picnics and weddings. And you might be working with half a dozen different cultures or more.
As anthropologists, we really try to get into the deeper aspects of the culture, and so it was a challenge for me to try to do both and show that people in their everyday lives, they're constantly coming across people from other cultures, whether it's at work or in schools or at the doctors office or whatever, and I wanted to get at some of those interesting cross-cultural experiences.
Q: You're not only researching these new cultures, you're also researching the dominant culture, which in this case is a white, Christian culture. What surprised you the most?
A: I was working with the dominant culture, the Sudanese and Bosnians. I expected to find a lot of racism, and I did. And a lot of xenophobia, kind of fear of these groups coming into Fargo, and I found that. And I documented it.
What was surprising was the really important role of culture -- in addition to race -- in separating those ideas out. Sudanese faced a great deal of racism for sure. But some of their cultural values were more in line with the dominant culture than the Bosnians.
For example, Sudanese are very Christian and they really strongly believe in the Christian values because of their contact with missionaries in Sudan during the war and in refugee camps in Sudan. And they also have an extremely high value of education. And a lot of them, especially the leaders in the community, are talking about the value of hard work, of education, and Christian values, and that goes well with the dominant culture. And so they're getting involved in churches, they're meeting people that way.
Bosnians tend to keep to themselves. They also believe in the value of hard work but they really weren't touting the benefits of education and civic duty and speaking out about their culture the way the Sudanese were.
And so in some ways, the Bosnian Roma were considered some of the least worthy citizens in Fargo because of this; because of race, but also because of culture, because of everyday aspects of culture ... like ideas about the role of education, the role of community and government and so on.
Q: Does the fact they were more of an insular people create the perception that they're not as worthy a citizen, or were they actually interested in the education of their children and all of these other values?
A: The Muslim Bosnians, who were white Bosnian, they believe in education. They send their children to school. The children sometimes finish high school. Some of them might go on to college. But because they weren't out there in the community, they blended in a little bit more than other refugees, again, because of their race.
But they didn't have any sort of community organization, and when they tried to start community organizations, they often failed because of lack of internal cohesion and because Bosniaks -- Bosnian Muslims -- and Bosnian Roma don't get along. And there's a lot of racism against Bosnians by other Bosnians.
Roma, on the other hand, tend to drop out of school at younger ages -- before the age of 16 -- and a lot of Roma and Bosnians in Fargo are marrying their children, which is a cultural practice, at very young ages. And so child protection, and schools, and police officers, and a lot of different state institutions are getting involved.
And so the Roma are upset because they want to continue a lot of these cultural practices -- and they do have a lot of pride in their culture, but it's not something they want to talk about in public. And so my job, I see kind of over the long term, is to explain both to Roma and these different state institutions, that there's different ideas about what it means to be a good citizen or a worthy citizen, and especially between the Roma and the dominant culture, they just don't gel right now because of differences surrounding marriage, children, education, and things like that.
Q: I can't imagine Fargo changing its definition of a "worthy" citizen. What do you see happening?
A: I think there's a couple of different things that need to happen and, first of all, I give a lot of kudos to the state institutions and the private institutions, namely Lutheran social services, Cass County social services, the schools, they were really open to letting me come in as a researcher and a lot of them are asking for advice; they want to do something to be more inclusive. The wider society is not going to change, but there's a lot of advocates for refugees there who are doing their best to help a little bit there.
I think it's good that someone like me can work with Roma that they don't need to change everything about their culture; I hope that doesn't happen. In order to continue to practice their culture, they're going to have to make some adjustments. If the kids can stay in school at least until they're 16, they can read and write, that will make rural businesses better. A lot of Roma are practicing the scrap metal business. This can help the business, it also can help maintain cultural values, and things like that. It has to come from both actors. State and private institutions have to adjust a little bit and also Roma have to adjust a little bit as well.
Q: Do you think the dynamic you found would be the same if you went to Pelican Rapids, or the south or west or California, or is this a unique situation for the Red River Valley?
A: It's both. Fargo and Pelican Rapids would be the same. And I think the Upper Midwest would all be similar. Sioux Falls and Fargo are similar. Minneapolis is a little bit different because it's a bigger city, it has a little more diversity.
But the thing I found in the Upper Midwest is this thing about niceness. There is a cultural aspect that might be similar to the South, but it's certainly not the same as the East and West Coasts in terms of modesty -- a very Norwegian American concept of modesty -- forced modesty, almost. And a politeness. It's known as Minnesota Nice.
Bosnians -- both Romas and Bosniaks -- had a problem with this because they'd say things like, 'I don't understand why people... they smile all the time and they're always so nice but we know you're not really nice. It's fake nice and they're actually cold." And some of the Bosnians said that they thought that some of the people in Fargo are some of the coldest people they'd ever met. And I remember telling this woman, "You know, we're actually known for being really nice." And she was, like, "I really don't see this at all. I see this as only fake nice. I know they don't like me. I know they hear my accent. I heard this from refugees a lot."
Q: I know people who moved here from other parts of the country who say the same thing.
A: One of the things I talk about in this dissertation is the people of Fargo -- and I think it could be expanded to the wider Midwest, I don't know about the rest of the country -- is that we the people of the Midwest -- the white people -- don't have a culture or a race. It just goes without saying, it's just us. But the refugees have a culture and a race. This is the biggest problem that I saw. So my goal was to say that, no, there is a culture. And it's a culture that's shaped very strongly by Christian values, even more specifically, Lutheran values. This idea of niceness, of modesty, of civic duty, of self sufficiency. These are American values, but I think they play out slightly differently in other parts of the country.
So I want to put a name on it and say "we have a culture. We have a race. White is a race" and that needs to be interrogated. Just to make people aware of their own cultural values and system. Maybe that could help a little bit.
Q: This "nice" thing. Where does it rank in the list of values that people use to determine who is a worthy citizen?
A: I think it ranks quite highly on the everyday level and that's where anthropologists work. I would find in welfare offices, for example, some of the welfare workers that I spoke with say enjoyed working with Sudanese because Sudanese were more "grateful." They were overtly grateful and nice people to talk to.
If I'm a social worker and I have someone come into my office and say, "thank you so much. I appreciate the time you're putting into this, if you could do that for me, that would be great..." this is the Midwest way of speaking. That social worker is more likely to give out more benefits... you could provide outside resources more. He or she might be more helpful.
If you're someone like a Bosnian Roma who comes in and, at times -- and I would say this is a cultural strategy -- some Romani men have been overtly sexual. Or Roma in general can be very belligerent and say, 'Listen, this is your job, give me these kind of benefits..." , the social worker is probably not going to respond very well. On this everyday level niceness is very important. That wouldn't be the same on the East Coast.
Q: When you explain this to them, what is their reaction?
A: I want to be careful that the stereotype doesn't get out there that the Roma are overly sexual because that's not true. I do think it's a strategy, but it's a cultural strategy like niceness that's developed over a long period of time. So I don't think that people... the families that I work with who are Roma don't necessarily go in and say, "Now we're going to do this."
I didn't actually sit down with them yet. This is a long-term project. I only just recently put this all together. But I would say it's not an overtly cultural survival mechanism. But with like teachers or doctors, they could say "if you could be more polite to me, you might have more success in getting what you want."
Q: By going back to your home turf, did you have a sense of ownership toward members of the community that you might not have had if you'd gone to Bosnia or Sudan or anywhere else?
A: Definitely. I was what some people might call an insider. I'm from the region. People know where Luverne is and I was seen as one of them. In other ways, a researcher is always going to be an outsider. But I tried to give back to the community as much as possible. I hadn't actually lived in Fargo before, so there was plenty about Fargo that I didn't know. But I grew up in a Norwegian Lutheran American family and I wanted to get at that culture
(For more information about Jen Erickson's work, see this article in the University of Oregon magazine)
African American commentators today paused when President Obama flashed some anger over the BP oil spill.
Two firebrands of the anti-tax movement in Minnesota -- Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer -- headlined a rally at the Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, the Star Tribune reported.
But a photograph in the Star Tribune revealed an obviously racist message that muted the message protesters wanted to deliver.
The rally at the Capitol was organized by Jason Lewis of KTLK. To be clear: Most of the signs were merely political in nature. But, at some point, doesn't someone have to say, "Hey, buddy, ditch the sign; you're killing our cause, here"?
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that the Tea Party movement, in particular, is battling a perception of racism:
Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, said that at the heart of the effort to counter racism accusations is dissociating from protesters who cross the line. Around the time of the health-care vote, FreedomWorks and Tea Party Nation worked to form a federation of tea party groups to coordinate strategy and do a better job sticking to a similar message, organizers said.
At a protest in Nashville, Phillips said, there were "a couple of signs -- which I'm not convinced weren't plants from the other side -- that were really tasteless and inappropriate." The people who carried them "were told to put their signs down and leave. . . . They were literally thrown out of the event," he said.(17 Comments)
MPR's Michael Caputo is holding a forum on how we talk about racial issues. It's part of a continuing Friday series on the issue. Join in.
Sarah Palin held a rally on Boston Common today on behalf of the tea party. Here's a picture of the crowd. Click on the images to see the larger versions.
More shots of the crowd can be found at Boston.com.
The last time Boston had a big rally, the dastardly Red Sox won a World Series. Compare the face of Boston.
According to the census bureau, only 56% of Boston is white.
Today's crowd was -- as it was at the Palin rally in Minneapolis -- exclusively white. That doesn't make the tea party racist -- an accusation that precludes a scholarly discussion -- but it does indicate that the tea party doesn't resonate with non-whites (and/or that it's not as popular in Boston as the Red Sox).
What does this mean for the movement? Why doesn't it resonate across race? And can it be a national party without creating -- or at least, illuminating -- a racial divide?
By the way, this sign at the rally should get some attention:
For more on the tea party, listen to today's MPR Midday, which featured an analysis of the tea party movement.(15 Comments)
Edith Lichtenstein Morgan picked a good time to return to Minnesota. The Massachusetts woman is in the state this week to talk about her experience escaping from the Nazis and emigrating to the United States, drawing parallels with today's immigrants. She's on her way to St. Cloud this afternoon, a city that -- for whatever reason -- is gaining a reputation for intolerance.
"I get concerned when there's talk about rounding up people and when there's talk about any kind of war... but I think a lot of the American public is concerned when the subject is immigration. We almost didn't get in because the country had very strict quotas, and the Jewish quota was filled when we tried to get," she told me today. "The public goes hysterical whenever anything happens and looks for some group to blame, and I think we're approaching another one of those hysterical periods."
Which group will it be? "It looks like it's going to be Muslims or Middle Eastern groups, Syrians and Egyptians and Pakistanis. Most Americans, I don't think, can tell the difference," she said.
The recent problems in St. Cloud are not limited to that city or Minnesota, she points out. "In Massachusetts we've had several recent cases of desecration of synagogues and I'm not always sure whether it's just a bunch of (kids) looking for attention or whether it's skinheads or something worse, although it doesn't get much worse than them," she said. "I'm concerned about the militias and what appears to be a growing violence that has been sort of generalized but is probably going to focus in the near future unless we can do something to stop it."
Mrs. Morgan's "something" is telling her story, to draw a parallel between history and current events.
"My father was a federal judge and Jewish, which was a double-whammy because he was also progressive," she said. "They fought the Nazis every way they could but by January 1933, they put my father under house arrest and when he wouldn't stay home, they imprisoned him. When my brother was born, they allowed him out for just a few days, but we took a train to the Black Forest, but got off on the Swiss border. But we couldn't stay there. We were resettled in Paris, lived there for three years before the Germans followed us there. We got mixed in with the retreating French army. Finally, the armistice was declared and a small slice of France was left free, but it was only a matter of time before they got us so we had to leave there. They got my grandmother, and they got my mother's sister; my grandmother died in a cattle car."
Her family eventually made it to the U.S., thanks to a Swiss family "who gave us their life savings," and American Quakers, who sent the Lichtensteins to the Scattergood Hostel near Iowa City. Her father found work at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Only recently has Edith Lichtenstein Morgan started telling her story. "I'm not sure why," she said. "I married a Midwest American and it didn't come up that much. I probably wasn't ready to deal with a lot of that stuff so I didn't talk about it that much."
Her tour through Minnesota this week is sponsored by the TRACES Center for History and Culture, which "gathers, preserves and presents stories of Midwesterners' encounters with Germans or Austrians between 1933 and 1948. Out of that legacy, it documents the effects of hatred and war, and explores alternatives to intolerance and armed conflict. Above all, it offers educational outreach."
Edith Lichtenstein Morgan will be a guest on MPR's Morning Edition on Friday.
· The reason for her visit. (Listen)
· Her path from Nazi Germany (Listen)
· Why she's telling her story. (Listen)
There's been a big upswing in how black America sees their prospects. A Pew Research survey of blacks finds only 39 percent of those surveyed think the "situation" of black people is better than it was five years ago. But that's almost twice what it was in 2007. It's an interesting response given that the black unemployment rate in America is 16.2 percent.
More than half, however, think the future will be better.
A majority of blacks (54%) also report that Obama's barrier-breaking election has improved race relations in America; just 7% say it has made race relations worse. Whites, too, see progress on this front, though by much smaller margins. A plurality of whites (45%) say Obama's election has made no difference to race relations, while about a third (32%) say it has made things better and 15% say it has made race relations worse.
The rest of the survey shows the deep racial divide in the country when it comes to evaluating life in America. For example, 43% of blacks say there's a lot of discrimination against blacks. That's about the same as the response in 2001, the survey says. Among whites surveyed, however, only 13% believe there's a lot of discrimination against blacks, a significant drop since 2001.
Eighty percent of blacks say the country needs to make changes to ensure equal rights. But only a third of whites agree.
One significant shift in responses from blacks is worth noting, however. More than half of those surveyed say blacks who cannot get ahead in this country are mainly responsible for their own situation. Fifteen years ago, most surveyed said if blacks can't get ahead, it's because of discrimination.
Here's the full report.
The Seattle Seahawks are going to hire Pete Carroll -- a white guy -- to be their new coach, ESPN is reporting this morning, but the real story might well be how a rule to increase the number of African Americans in the NFL coaching ranks has trivialized some of them in the process.
The rule -- known as the Rooney Rule -- has resulted in more African American coaches by requiring teams to interview African Americans when a coaching vacancy occurs. True, the rule has resulted in more black coaches, but how'd you like to be put in the position Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Lesley Frazier is in? In the rush to hire Carroll, the Seahawks have pressured Frazier to be the required black interviewee.
What's wrong with that? Here's the "money paragraph" in the ESPN story that says Carrol and the Seahawks have agreed to a deal:
The hangup could be locating a candidate to interview that would put the Seahawks in compliance with the rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate for head-coaching hires.
That's not the way the rule is supposed to work. Teams aren't supposed to go looking for a black coaching candidate just to say they looked for one, they're actually supposed to consider their qualifications for the job.
That's not happening in this case. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting today that Frazier, an African American, is being wooed by the Seahawks, to be the show horse in the scheme.
Schefter says Frazier has agreed to the interview this morning.
"I hope when they bring in a minority candidate they legitimately are looking at that candidate as a potential head coach as opposed to satisfying the Rooney Rule," Frazier told the Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere this week. "I'm hoping that's the case, that they are legitimately believing that this guy has a chance. "
If Schefter's report is correct, Frazier doesn't.
"Thank God for the Rooney Rule," ESPN's Bill Simmons tweeted this morning. "Otherwise Leslie Frazier never woulda had a chance to not have a chance at the Seahawks job."(2 Comments)
The symbolism of the most powerful TV personality in America -- an African American -- interviewing the First Family -- African Americans -- was not lost on The Nation's Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who suggests it's time for a black Santa:
Black Santa will not cure the fundamental inequalities that shape the lives of black children and poor children of all races. He does not bring justice in his sleigh. Still, racism's assault on black life is not just substantive and economic; it is also symbolic and psychological. Navigating the symbols of whiteness during Christmas always make the holidays a little harder for many of us.
As I watched Oprah Winfrey chat with the Obamas in the beautifully decorated White House, I felt like this holiday season was a little brighter in a darker hue.
In Tallahassee over the weekend, Soul Santa gave kids in the community someone they can relate to, according to organizers.
"We wanted to make sure the kids in this community could identify with a Santa," said LeVerne Payne, one of the founders and original organizer of the event. "Some of these kids don't get the chance to go the mall and see Santa."
When does racial symbolism matter?
While reading Harris-Lacewell's essay, I was watching White House spokesman Robert Gibbs' daily briefing and was struck by the hue of the White House press corps.3 Comments)
Every now and again -- too often, actually -- we get an entry for the "what were they thinking?" file.
Students at Red Wing High School provided a recent entry when they held an unsanctioned activity during homecoming week -- Wangster Day. "Students dressed as gansters and rappers in a way that some students felt mocked black students and emphasized racial stereotypes," the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.
Two weeks ago, African American parents asked the school board to send messages home to parents noting the district's policy against events such as "Wangster Day."
Last night the board declined to take that action. "We have faith in our young people," Red Wing Superintendent Stan Slessor said.
Some students have formed a group called Togetherness and Awareness Makes Greatness or TAG, which will tackle racial issues at the school. The school's senior class president says a diversity club at the school failed in its job before falling apart a few years ago.(2 Comments)
Posted at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
Filed under: Race
Perhaps because it wasn't much of a shock, or because Michelle Obama herself hadn't made any public effort to shed light on her distant past, but the revelation that Mrs. Obama is descendant of African-American slaves comes as a simple underscore to the history of a nation that has struggled to deal with race issues.
If there was a surprise after genealogist Megan Smolenyak and The New York Times examined the records and determined Mrs. Obama's ancestry, it was that Obama's great-great-great-grandfather was white; he fathered a child with enslaved and illiterate Melvinia Shields.
In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolina estate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475.
In his will, she is described simply as the "negro girl Melvinia." After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time.
As complex a path as Michelle Obama's to the White House may be, the story resonates with a little bit of that "yea, well..." feeling. That feeling where you're not quite sure what something means, and you're already late for your 10:30 meeting.
That Michelle Obama now lives in the White House — a house that slaves helped build — is surely a sign of progress in American society. That, before her husband became president, eight presidents owned slaves while in office leaves a sour tinge on the praise we casually heap on the country's forefathers.
While President Obama's biracial background has drawn considerable attention, his wife's pedigree, which includes American Indian strands, highlights the complicated history of racial intermingling, sometimes born of violence or coercion, that lingers in the bloodlines of many African-Americans.
Admittedly, my background as a young, white male from Minnesota limits my ability to put this in proper context. Does this mean anything to you, dear readers? Is this one more step towards a realized, post-racial society, or just fodder for presidential trivia?
If you didn't know any better, you'd think the issue in today's Supreme Court decision that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, is Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose Appeals Court decision is the one the high court overturned. It's not. It's more black and white. It's about race and whether you have a right to be promoted, according to the decision.
Both sides claim discrimination to some degree. African American firefighters say the test, itself, was discriminatory. White and Hispanic firefighters say failing to promote based on the test discriminates against them. One of them Frank Ricci, studied long and hard to win the promotion. He's dyslexic, and "found it necessary to 'hire someone, at considerable expense, to read onto audiotape the content of the books and study materials," the court noted.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the firm that built the test, rode along with firefighters and oversampled minority members of the department.
At every stage of the job analyses, IOS, by deliberate choice, oversampled minority firefighters to ensure that the results--which IOS would use to develop the examinations--would not unintentionally favor white candidates.
But here's the big question: Can you throw out test results merely because of the race of those who stood to be rewarded by the result? "Without some other justification, this express, race-based decision-making violates Title VII's command that employers cannot take adverse employment actions because of an individual's race," Kennedy wrote.
Justice Antonin Scalia sees the ruling as the first step in resolving a long-simmering debate. "The war between disparate impact and equal protection will be waged sooner or later, and it behooves us to begin thinking about how--and on what terms--to make peace between them."
Good luck with that.
Justice Ruth Ginsberg, in a dissent, first takes away the right to promotion:
"The white firefighters who scored high on New Haven's promotional exams understandably attract this Court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion."
And then appears to convey it based on a community's racial make-up:
"By order of this Court, New Haven, a city in which African-Americans and Hispanics account for nearly 60 percent of the population, must today be served--as it was in the days of undisguised discrimination--by a fire department in which members of racial and ethnic minorities are rarely seen in command positions."
Which, of course, sets the stage for the subsequent public opinion debate: Who's fault is that? Is it the test? Or is it the culture of fire departments, a profession which have a long history of racism?
Ginsberg smelled the latter:
"At least two candidates opposed to certification noted unequal access to study materials. Some individuals, they asserted, had the necessary books even before the syllabus was issued. Others had to invest substantial sums to purchase the materials and 'wait a month and a half for some of the books because they were on back order.'"
Is this the beginning of the end for affirmative action? Few seem to think so. Marc Ambinder, writing on his Atlantic blog, says there's no net gain for politicians on the issue:
It's telling that affirmative action isn't the stuff of campaign ads and fiery political speeches. During the Bush years did Republican Washington make big efforts to repeal federal affirmative action policy? This isn't a consuming passion of the GOP and given its faltering efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters it isn't likely to be.
What's your opinion?
The U.S. Senate today passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and racial segregation. It now goes to the House.
Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin first introduced the measure years ago. Today he suggested, however, that it passed in light-year speed, by Senate time-keeping standards. "Let's face it, it's more meaningful to those who fought discrimination for years, many of them still alive today," Harkin said. "I mean we didn't really end segregation in this country until 1964, the Civil Rights Act."
Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas co-sponsored the resolution but it took more than a year of negotiations to agree on the language.
A film released last year suggests the reckoning should involve more than just the Senate...
MPR's Midmorning is debating whether there's still a need for affirmative action. Guests in the 9 a.m. hour are Mary Frances Berry of the University of Pennsylvania and former chairperson of the Commission on Civil Rights; and John McWhorter, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of "Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America."
Kerri says the show stems from an appearance on the show by Gwen Ifill. She says the phones lit up when the subject of affirmative action came up so her staff knew they had to do an entire show on it.
9:09 a.m. - Berry says people have always referred to affirmative action as a quota to hire unqualified people and that's incorrect. She says it's clearly needed now. She says until the country comes up with something better, "we have to keep trying."
9:12 a.m. - McWhorter says a "very white person" has had it hard too. He says he witnessed a transition from race-based factors in universities where people would "automatically get affirmative action. You get it whether you want it or not." Basing it on skin color -- as opposed to, say, socio economic inequity -- in appropriate. (His article on the subject)
9:15 a.m. - "Nothing you've said is anything I think," Berry said. She says universities only "affirm." She says she's had many white people who don't do well on standardized tests who she's recommended. "It's about our country and our demography and who we include and what we think will be the future of our country." She says she looks at the "whole person."
9:20 a.m. - McWhorter: "People with brown skin are admitted with lower test scores".
Berry: "I don't know anywhere where that happens."
9:21 a.m. - Caller: Many people benefit who are white. She's a college instructor who says her class benefits. McWhorter says he sees "just as much diversity from the white Catholic who's 7 feet tall, from Chinese...."
9:22 a.m. - Online commenter says admission policies should be "class based." McWhorter agrees. Berry says most universities do admit people based on trying to get the working class and poor "a free ride." She does not think people who are poor should be admitted if the school isn't looking at "the whole person."
9:26 a.m. -- Kerri references the link I'd already provided above. McWhorter says he never met someone who scored well on an SAT 'who wasn't a great student.' Berry says she had one who flunked out in the first year.
9:28 a.m. - Berry explains her comment above. What she meant was that people are not admitted simply because they were black or Latino. McWhorter says he's seen that happen. "Outrageous," said Berry. First time today they've agreed on something.
Tangent time: California's ban on affirmative action under court scrutiny.
9:32 a.m. - A student at William Mitchell School of law calls to tell Berry about two cases before the Supreme Court (aside: Students, you might want to just bring up these cases for clarification, instead of trying to 'school' lawyers who live these things and probably have more intimate knowledge of the cases.).
9:36 a.m. - Pressed on whether policies of 'race only" is the consideration, McWhorter concedes "not only." But "they're trying to make 'race neutral' policies tip toward race," he said.
"In none of those California or Georgia cases did people say all they wanted to do is look at race, that's just academically irresponsible," Berry says. "You're making it sound like they're saying, 'oh, black people, let's put them in this pile.'"
"Nobody's saying that," McWhorter replied.
9:39 a.m. - "In the age of Obama, his being elected to the presidency does not resolve these issues," says Berry. "We still have all these propositions around the country... trying to get rid of affirmative action.
Tangent time: Life after affirmative action, Nebraska is trying to figure it out.
9:42 a.m. - If you're listening live, you're hearing references to Richard Sanders. Here's what they're talking about
9:43 a.m. - "Cosby" cited as an example of African American middle class. An attorney married to a doctor. That's usually not middle class in any race.
Debate over whether there should be more people of color on TV news. Berry says, "John, do you think that there are more people of color who are well educated who can read the news?" McWhorter says "yes."
This is an area where there is a lot of concern in journalism circles, that as the industry continues to die, it's taking out gains made by affirmative action first.
9:48 a.m. - Does MnDOT stiff minority-owned contractors? A caller says so and Berry says that's been the case in the construction industry for quite awhile.
"If there's evidence of discrimination in the contracting in Minnesota, then, yeah, you have to have some kind of program," McWhorter says.
9:50 a.m. - Mark from Woodbury calls to relay personal story. When he was an ungrad in Boston, he applied to several grad schools. He got a phone call from professor at U of Washington who said he could apply for many grants, and realized they were "Hispanic grants." Looking at his file later, he said he realized he was only accepted at the school because they thought he was Hispanic. He says he believes in affirmative action "when it's done right."
Berry says affirmative action is illegal in the state of Washington by referendum.
9:54 a.m. - McWhorter and Berry both say Obama probably won't make any statements above affirmative action. "He's a politician, he wants to be popular, and he wants to get re-elected," Berry says.
She says the images of he and his family has moved the discussion into an undesirable area of people thinking "we're done and we don't have to do any more."(13 Comments)