At The Education Department, Student Artworks Explore Tolerance And Racism
Empathy, tolerance and acceptance: More and more, educators are focusing on the importance of schools’ paying attention to stuff other than academics.
And for the past two months, an exhibit at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., has gathered the work of student artists expressing themselves — through their work — about these issues.
The exhibit is called “Total Tolerance,” and it highlights themes of racism, sexism and diversity.
The student art comes from the National YoungArts Foundation, a Miami-based nonprofit that offers mentoring and fellowships to art students from around the country. Its proposal was selected late last year by the Department and the dozens of works of art went on display in May.
“This exhibition, it really exemplifies why we do this work,” says Carolina Garcia Jayaram, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Together, with the Department of Education, we can signal to the country that arts education is a necessary facet of education for all students.”
As the exhibit winds down in Washington this week, I spoke with three of the 21 young artists, about their art and about how it felt to have their work shown nationally.
Ameya Okamoto, 18, just graduated from high school in Portland, Ore., and will attend Tufts University this fall. Juniel Solis, 16, lives in Miami and will be attending a pre-college at the School of Visual Arts in New York this summer. And Aidan Forster, 17, just graduated from high school in Greenville, S.C., and will be attending Brown University next fall.
Our conversations have been edited for length and clarity.
Describe your work that’s on display.
Aidan Forster: My poem, Instructions for Suburban Boy Love, was inspired by the particular brand of queer isolation and loneliness endemic to suburban life in the South. It stems from questions of loneliness and isolation: What happens when you’re the only queer kid in your neighborhood? Or in your family? Or in your youth group or your circle of friends? When you start to feel kind of like a threatened or endangered species?
Former Morrissey fans to stage anti-racism party in Manchester
Party to protest against singer’s views to be held at same time as his nearby gig.
Former fans of Morrissey are to stage an anti-racism party to coincide with the singer’s forthcoming gig in Manchester, in protest against his support of the far-right leader Tommy Robinson.
Earlier this month, the former Smiths frontman criticised the “shocking treatment” of the English Defence League leader, who was jailed for 13 months for being found in contempt of court. Morrissey also repeated his support for the rightwing party For Britain, set up by the ex-Ukip candidate Anne Marie Waters.
The Manchester-born musician is set to perform at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl on 7 and 8 July. The “One Nation Under A Groove” protest party will be held at the nearby Revolution bar in the city’s Deansgate Locks from 3pm until midnight on 8 July. Entry is free and organisers said Morrissey fans were welcome to attend before or after the singer’s concert.
Dave Haslam, who DJed at the city’s Hacienda nightclub, said he had organised the event “in response to Morrissey’s divisive views, and his support for the far right”.
“Manchester is our home. It’s a city built on immigration, a city with an amazing legacy of great bands and wonderful clubs,” said Haslam. “Music brings people together. Strangers become brothers, sisters. All this positivity spreads into the city and beyond.”
Reflection, repentance from the sin of racism seen as key to evangelization
To be effective at the task of evangelizing the culture, Catholics must first reflect and repent from the sins of years of institutional racism in the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a new pastoral note.
The note was released one year after the publishing of his blueprint for evangelization in the Detroit Archdiocese, “Unleash the Gospel.”
The pastoral note, released June 18 in English and Spanish, is titled “Agents for the New Creation” and released as the first in a series over the coming months that will examine cultural and societal topics in light of “Unleash the Gospel.”
Seventy-five years after the infamous civil unrest of 1943 that took the lives of 34 people and wounded 400 others in Detroit, a catalyst for decades of racial animosity and bitterness, Catholics in the Detroit metro area have a role to play in bringing Christ into the deepest recesses of lingering division by repenting of evil and recommitting to protecting the inherent dignity of all people, the archbishop wrote.
“Our nation’s history has many tremendous accomplishments of which we should be proud. But it also bears the stain of many years of institutional racism whereby blacks – even after emancipation – were treated as second-class citizens or worse. Complicit in these sins were many who professed the Catholic faith,” Vigneron wrote.
“Sadly, we are living the wounds of those many years of injustice in our local communities. For the sins of these Catholics past and present, I as your Archbishop am truly sorry. Acts of racism are sins.”
To become a truly missionary archdiocese, Catholics in southeast Michigan must acknowledge the past with a forthright trust in the “life-changing power of Jesus Christ” to overcome sin and move forward in love, he said.
“For us in metro Detroit, this mission-oriented attitude means that we keep Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do,” Vigneron wrote. “Our role is to entrust ourselves faithfully to him and to let his teaching shape our lives and our actions.”
The fact that the archbishop has repeatedly addressed the topic since before the 2016 Detroit synod that led to “Unleash the Gospel” is a sign that the issue is of paramount importance in the still racially divided city, said Msgr. Dan Trapp, pastor of St. Augustine and St. Monica Parish on Detroit’s east side and a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
“This is a problem that has to be faced. It’s something we all need to be praying about and repenting – that is, thinking again – about,” Trapp told The Michigan Catholic, Detroit’s archdiocesan newspaper.
“We’re not in a post-racial society. Some people like to think we are; we’re not,” he said.
“We’ve had four or five race riots in Detroit, depending on how people count them. This is just a long-standing difficulty, and the fact that the archbishop points it out, I think is helpful for all of us.”
Leon Dixon, director of black Catholic ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said the archbishop’s repeated efforts to bridge racial divides have not gone unnoticed in the black Catholic community.
“So many times when dealing with matters of race, sex or anything that makes people uncomfortable, it kind of just sits there. He’s keeping (this) at the top of the conversation,” Dixon said. “In our world today, everything is so polarized and politicized, with people drawing lines in the sand. But the archbishop is telling us, there is no line to be drawn in the sand if you’re a Catholic or a Christian because Jesus has proclaimed salvation for all.”
While inner-city parishes that are predominantly black – some with churches built to house 1,000 to 1,500 parishioners – have suffered from dwindling congregations, Dixon said those who remain often feel isolated from the rest of the Church.
The racist myth of the ‘physical’ African football team
I love listening to white men, especially old white men, talk about black athletes during major global sporting events. I have been following the kind of language white pundits use during FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games for years, so I am well aware to their fascination with and ridicule of the black body.
I was hardly surprised that someone like British businessman and reality TV star Alan Sugar came up with a bitter and racist tweet about the Senegalese team at the World Cup in Russia.
Sugar’s colonial mindset saw the Senegalese team as people selling sunglasses on beaches, not as world-class players who deserve praise for their success.
Sugar’s statement demonstrates the implicit prejudice that often surfaces in Western media discussions about African players. That Sugar and many of his supporters initially did not see the racism in his tweet and tried to play it down as a “joke” confirms the latent bigotry that haunts football and how media covers it.
But beyond Sugar’s raw racism, there are all kinds of “veiled” racist discourses that dominate the language white commentators use during football matches.
My favourite is their widely normalised assumption that African teams are always the “physical” and never the “tactical” side. When Senegal faced Poland in their first World Cup appearance since 2002 earlier this month, the same assumption was repeated.
After Senegal defeated its Eastern European opponent 2-1, NBC Sport claimed in an online article that Poland had succumbed to Senegal’s “pace and physicality”. Former West Ham Coach Slaven Bilic, now pundit for British ITV, also commented on Senegal’s “pace and power”.
Scarborough: “Overt Racism” Is The Central Driving Principle Of Trump Presidency, Attacking People Who Aren’t White
“It has gone from a seasoning to the beginning of the campaign to literally the central driving principle of his presidency,” he said. “You look at the press conferences he is holding and the statements he is making. The central — the central defining nature of his presidency now has to do with attacking people who are not white. Look at his tweets!”
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Children seized from their parents. 2,500 infants, toddlers, children, spread out. Reports that a 3-year-old actually — 3-month-old I mean, moved to Michigan. A 4-year-old was put on a bus at the border in Mexico/Texas. Driven up on a bus with a government contractor who couldn’t touch them, couldn’t hug them. Some who didn’t even speak Spanish, driven all the way up, 2,000 miles to New York City.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: People don’t know what to do, and they are very — I mean, I really meant more than ever, people who are visibly upset about what is going on, and I totally understand a very good, honest debate about whether or not somebody who works in the white house, you know, should be shouted out of the restaurant or not. The answer is not.
MIKA: But dwelling on it, and the white house press secretary tweeting about it is completely inappropriate, off topic at this point and pales in comparison to what is ailing this nation. People don’t know what to do, so they are doing what they can.
JOE: Shouting people down is not the thing to do, at the same time, keep your head down and worry about parents. If you were a parent — and I had somebody who usually defends trump saying, I’m not sure at this point, how anybody who has children could not look at this and be moved in a personal way and ask, what’s happening to our country? And yet, we’re going to have Jeremy Peters on later today. Jeremy wrote a story that the more Donald Trump is attacked, whether it’s for lying and they admit that he is a liar, whether it’s just overt racism where it has gone from a seasoning to the beginning of the campaign to literally the central driving principle of his presidency. You look at the press conferences he is holding and the statements he is making. The central — the central defining nature of his presidency now has to do with attacking people who are not white. Look at his tweets. Look what happened over the past week. People understand that too, and yet they go, well, I know. That makes me uncomfortable, and they still support him.
Trump’s tax-cut scam will only deepen racism and inequality
The six-month anniversary of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed last week with little fanfare. Despite Republicans’ dishonest spin, most Americans recognize that President Trump’s crowning legislative achievement was a plutocratic heist that will do nothing to help working people. Greedy corporations have used their windfalls to reward chief executives and stockholders, while workers’ wages have actually declined. Barely a third of Americans now support the law.
Yet the racial implications of Trump’s tax scam have been radically underreported and remain poorly understood. While fair tax reform could reduce the impact of structural racism in the economy, the law that Republicans passed in December will make it much worse.
That’s the conclusion of an important new report from economists Darrick Hamilton and Michael Linden of the Roosevelt Institute (where I serve on the board). As the institute has documented, the U.S. economy is shaped by informal rules that create disparities that harm people of color in virtually every part of society. Many of these “hidden rules of race” can be found in the federal tax code.
“Far from addressing, fixing, or improving the hidden rules of the tax code that disadvantage people of color, the new law strengthened some of these rules and even added new ones,” they write. “The sum total effect of the Trump tax law is likely to further increase the economic disparities, particularly with regards to wealth, between white Americans and communities of color.”
Start with the obvious fact that it disproportionately benefits corporations and the rich. This will clearly lead to greater economic inequality in general, but it will also exacerbate the racial wealth gap, because the wealthiest Americans are overwhelmingly white. As the Roosevelt report notes, median net worth among white households is about 1,200 percent larger than it is among their black counterparts. Any tax policy skewed toward the wealthy, then, is also racially skewed against people of color.
Furthermore, while the richest Americans reap the benefits of the law, many workers at the bottom of the income ladder, where people of color are overrepresented, will actually see an overall tax increase over time. That means the law effectively raids black and brown Americans’ paychecks to fatten the investment accounts of the largely white financial elite.
World Cup exposes England not Russia as the country with a racism problem
England fans giving Nazi salutes in Russia’s Volgograd, Lord Alan Sugar posting racist tweets. Just how deep does England’s problem with racism run?
Baseless warnings about racism in Russia
Exposed as baseless during this World Cup has been the anti-Russia propaganda peddled by Western ideologues, particularly in the UK, when it comes to the security and safety of travelling fans.
In the lead up to the tournament the contents of a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report was made public by the BBC. Consider the following paragraph: “Fans from BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) backgrounds and those who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) face additional risks of attack and persecution [in Russia].”
This exercise in scaremongering was undertaken by the usual crew of Russophobic cranks that colonises the UK political and media establishment, undertaken as part of a campaign to undermine the tournament and see it end in failure. In deterring fans from England in travelling to Russia to follow their team it worked, reflected in significantly lower number of tickets being sold in England than were sold for past World Cups in which the country’s national team were involved.
Alas, with the undoubted success of the tournament thus far, grudgingly acknowledged even by strident critics of Russia, England fans that made the mistake of believing this Russophobic guff have missed out and will be kicking themselves – even more so considering the hospitality the England fans who braved the journey have reported receiving in Russia, “praising a particularly warm reception from their hosts.”
‘F*** racism!’ – Sweden players rally behind team-mate’s powerful statement after online threats
SWEDEN’S JIMMY DURMAZ has denounced “unacceptable” messages of racial hatred and even death threats after he gave away the foul that led to Toni Kroos’s late winner for Germany at the World Cup.
Abusive comments on the 29-year-old substitute’s Instagram account poured in after Germany won 2-1 in the 95th minute in Sochi on Saturday.
“I can be criticised for my performance… but there is a line, and that line was crossed yesterday,” Durmaz said in a statement he read out to reporters at the team’s Black Sea coast base in Gelendzhik on Sunday.
“When you threaten me, when you call me a “blatte” (a pejorative word for a dark-skinned foreigner), an ‘Arab devil’, a ‘terrorist’, ‘Taliban’, then you have gone far beyond the limit,” he said.
Durmaz, who was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey, said his family and children had also been threatened.
“Who the hell does such things? It is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Earlier in the day, general secretary Hakan Sjostrand confirmed the Swedish FA had reported the abuse to police on behalf of the player.
“A number of complaints have been made with the Swedish FA as the plaintiff so that Jimmy can concentrate on what he is here to do – play football. But Durmaz is fully behind the complaints,” Sjostrand said via a statement.
“We do not tolerate a player being subjected to threats or abuse. It’s uncomfortable and very upsetting to see the treatment that Jimmy Durmaz has had to put up with. Completely unacceptable.”
Rebel Commentary: Would You Hire A Racist?
Rebel is Rebecca Carroll‘s regular column on race and pop culture. You can hear Rebecca talk about these issues with guests on Wednesday mornings on WNYC, or participate in one of Rebel’s monthly conversations in The Greene Space.
This week a white Seattle man, Steven Jay Watts, went on a public tirade, hurling racial slurs at a black man on the street. Last month in Midtown, a safety poster was found at a construction site that showed a black man with a noose around his neck. We’ve seen a steep increase in public displays of racism since President Trump took office, and at least one instance with swift and real consequences, when ABC cancelled Roseanne Barr’s show following her string of racist tweets.
The show’s cancellation marked the first instance of a high profile figure being fired for racism during the #MeToo Movement, when a spate of high-profile figures like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer have been forced out of their jobs for sexual assault. But what about the racist outbursts that occur outside of someone’s workplace? Watts was arrested for harassment and obstruction, but should he be eligible for a job? Would you hire a racist?
That is the question I asked a panel of critics and thought leaders at a live event I hosted this week at the Jerome L. Greene Space as part of the #RebelConvo series. Kara R. Brown, co-host of the podcast Keep It, writer and comedian Ziwe Fumudoh, and author and activist Mona Eltahawy joined me in a conversation to define the parameters of racism, and to try to establish what concrete repercussions might be. It’s important to define racism, because we can’t tear down racism if we can’t agree what it means. Most of us on the panel agreed that racism is the abuse of systemic power by white people to dehumanize people of color. But things start to get complicated when people, mostly white, co-opt the less blunt term “racial” and turn it into a euphemism for racism.
What Should We Think About Albert Einstein’s Racism?
No scientist in modern history looms larger in the public consciousness than Albert Einstein. Almost everyone knows who he was and what he looked like, at least toward the end of his life, when he entirely abandoned combing his hair. He is the poster example of genius for many. We all know E=mc2, even if most of us can’t really say what it means. It’s easy to forget that there was a real human being with that name, someone with a personality shaped by his culture and prejudices. In short, someone who could simultaneously be a noted humanitarian and hold racist opinions.
The Guardian published a summary of a new translation of the diary Einstein kept while traveling through Asia in the early 1920s. This was in the period after he won his Nobel Prize in physics, when his fame was reaching its first peak. As a result, he was in demand, and spent a lot of time traveling the world.
He enjoyed visiting Japan, but other countries — notably China and Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) — he described with very racist language. “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races,” he wrote in one passage. “For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
For those who know something about Einstein, these racist statements are all the more disturbing. Prior to relocating to the United States in 1933 and even more so after, Einstein was active in anti-racist organizations, speaking out against the mistreatment of African-Americans. He lent his name and reputation to a number of causes led by prominent black leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson. As I wrote for Smithsonian Magazine,
Einstein saw racism as a fundamental stumbling block to freedom. In both his science and his politics, Einstein believed in the need for individual liberty: the ability to follow ideas and life paths without fear of oppression. And he knew from his experiences as a Jewish scientist in Germany how easily that freedom could be destroyed in the name of nationalism and patriotism. In a 1946 commencement speech at Lincoln University, the oldest black college in the U.S., Einstein decried American racism in no uncertain terms.
“There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States,” said the renowned physicist, using the common term in the day. “That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”
The contrast is stark between his strong social justice advocacy for African-Americans and his earlier words about Chinese and Sri Lankan people.
All the more worrisome about these newly translated diaries is that apart from them, Einstein said almost nothing about Asia and those of Asian descent. I spent quite a bit of time digging through the Einstein biographies and commentaries I own, along with his own essays, and there’s very little about China in any of them. The book Einstein on Race and Racism by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor doesn’t discuss Einstein’s attitudes about Asia, even as they describe the civil wars and anticolonialist revolutions happening at that time. (Einstein did admire Mahatma Gandhi and his passive resistance strategy, though Gandhi’s own attitudes about black Africans were troubling.) As far as I can tell, Einstein never commented on — much less opposed — the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
This is troubling because Einstein wasn’t one to be quiet about matters he thought were important. He saw parallels between black Americans’ civil rights struggles and the plight of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, and built his compassion for African-Americans on that foundation. His anti-lynching activism in the 1940s was done in full public view, drawing the ire of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.