Student video titled ‘Inclusive Negligence’ featured at UW-L staff welcome
A new student-produced video will be sparking discussion of diversity and campus climate at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The video, “Inclusive Negligence,” focuses on the experiences of students of color at the university, and was shown to all faculty and staff Wednesday morning as part of UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow’s semester-opening remarks. Produced by a team of students from diverse backgrounds, it will be used by different departments and units on campus to raise awareness of diversity issues and issues faced by minority students.
“We don’t want our voices to go unheard,” UW-L student Jamie Capetillo said.
She said students of color come to campus for all sorts of reasons such as having siblings who attended UW-L, a desire to study in a particular program and others. But while students’ reasons for attending are varied, Capetillo said, their experiences at UW-L are similar and negative.
There isn’t enough emphasis on diversity, she said, and not enough is being done to address concerns students of color have been bringing up for more than a decade. According to a 2013 survey conducted by UW-L’s Campus Climate office, minority students are more likely than white students to seriously consider leaving the university, which is almost 90 percent white.
During interviews for the video, UW-L students of color spoke about the issues they experience on campus and in class. They feel isolated and excluded, many said, or ignored during classroom discussions and group work.
When they are called upon to speak, several of the students interviewed for the documentary said, they are asked to speak on behalf of everyone from their background or country. Other students spoke about how they don’t feel safe in a classroom filled mostly with white students or how their classmates and even their professors sometimes can’t say their names correctly.
“Everybody has to take accountability for their actions,” one of the female students in the video said. “And that is not happening here.”
Donald Trump: ‘Hillary Clinton Is a Bigot’
Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “bigot” while addressing the crowd at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi, tonight.
“Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future,” Trump said as he appealed to African-American voters.
Clinton later responded to Trump’s remarks in an phone interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Oh, Anderson, it reminds me of that great saying that Maya Angelou had, that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time,” she said. “And Donald Trump has shown us who he is. And we ought to believe him. He is taking a hate movement mainstream.”
Trump was joined on stage by Nigel Farage, one of the leaders of the “Brexit” movement.
Farage spoke to the crowd assembled about the parallels between this election and the British referendum to leave the European Union, while Trump called for the U.S. to “re-declare our independence.”
As Farage addressed the crowd, he laid bare the comparison.
“The parallels are there. There are millions of ordinary Americans who’ve been let down, who’ve had a bad time, who feel the political class in Washington are detached from them,” he said. “You have a fantastic opportunity here with this campaign … you’ll do it by doing what we did for Brexit in Britain.”
A parent at Pretoria Girls High School says the issue at the school is not just about hair‚ but about “plain racism”.
Lebo Madiba Lokotwayo on Monday took to social media to give her view of how the hair issue erupted at the school.
This follows the school’s reported instruction to black pupils to straighten their hair.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he had received complaints from parents about the hair policy‚ allegations that pupils in groups of two or more were being stopped and asked questions – after an earlier protest by pupils – and was told that teachers prevented pupils from speaking African languages.
Lesufi was due to visit the school on Monday to address the controversy as more than 4500 people signed a petition calling for his intervention.
#StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh was trending on social media as people vented their anger over the isse.
Madiba-Lokotwayo‚ who is a guardian to her niece who goes to the school‚ wrote on her Facebook wall: “The issue at Pretoria High School for Girls is not just about hair. It is just plain racism.
“The girl with the uncontrollable hair gave a speech in class about employment in South Africa. She gave a comparison of the politics of employment pre- and post-apartheid‚ she highlighted the ills of apartheid and the role of trade unions.
“Her speech was interrupted; she was taken to the headmaster’s office and was threatened with suspension.
“When her parents fought the suspension‚ they used the school’s hair regulations against her. Her hair is uncontrollable! Her mother is black (Zulu) and her father is Indian. Doesn’t that just make her proudly South African? She represents everything that is beautiful about this country. #SheIsHerHair “…I join the list of parents that say #NotInOurName#StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh‚” said Madiba-Lokotwayo.
A C-SPAN caller asked a black guest how to stop being prejudiced. Here’s how she responded.
A white man from North Carolina called into C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Sunday seeking advice from the show’s African American guest.
He told her he feared black people and wondered how he might change that.
Heather McGhee, the president of Demos, a progressive public policy organization that advocates for equality, was visibly moved as she absorbed the caller’s question. In a video that’s now been viewed more than 1 million times on Demos’s Facebook page, McGhee is seen nodding her head slowly up and down as the man spoke:
I was hoping your guest could help me change my mind about some things. I’m a white male, and I am prejudiced. And the reason it is is something I wasn’t taught but it’s kind of something that I learned. When I open up the papers, I get very discouraged at what young black males are doing to each other, and the crime rate. I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs — you have to get money for drugs — and it is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when, I have these different fears, and I don’t want my fears to come true. You know, so I try to avoid that, and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don’t like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example. What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?
We’re all racist. But racism by white people matters more
Most white people don’t see themselves as racist. They can comfortably reel off a list of people of colour they know, like, or maybe even love. They can’t think of a time when they’ve negatively discriminated against someone on the grounds of their race. And they don’t see, in a concrete way, how their own race has positively affected them.
More than that, when people imagine a racist, they probably envisage a white skinhead sat in a pub ready to start a fight with the first black or brown person who walks through the door. That’s a convenient picture to conjure up – it’s pretty easy to comfort yourself that you’re nothing at all like that awful bastard.
In fact, though, everyone – of whatever colour – is racist. As part of a TV documentary I’ve been working on, I’ve seen how our brains have a tendency to automatically associate our own race with good and other races with bad, whoever we are.
Psychological tests showed me this. I looked at the results of 2,846 British people who took an “Implicit Association Test”, designed to analyse automatic racial preferences.
On average, white Brits demonstrated a moderately strong bias towards their own race and black Brits showed a very weak bias towards their own race. I don’t think white people are born with some sort of racism gene – the main thing that explains those different scores is the way that society has geared up our brains differently.
I put myself under the lens too, and took a test where I was asked to put myself in the position of a police officer. Images of white men and black men flashed on a computer screen in front of me and I had less than a second to decide whether or not to shoot them, based on whether I thought they were holding a gun, or a harmless object like a can of drink or a packet of cigarettes. My results showed that I was slightly more likely to shoot white unarmed men than black unarmed men.
Letters: Most racism implies the surely fallacious assumption that biological and cultural characteristics are transmitted together
Does that make me a racist? To my surprise, I think it does. But I didn’t find those test results as troubling as you might expect.
I think my responses to a game about police killings and gunmen have been affected by the fact that I’m a journalist. I’ve spent the past year in the United States covering relentless news about unarmed black men being shot by the police and armed white men committing mass murders. That’s pretty unique. Compared with the other participants, my results were very unusual – the data shows most people are much more likely to shoot at black men than white men. But that data comes almost exclusively from white participants who are much more likely to be police officers holding the gun in the real world (94.5% of police officers in England and Wales are white, just 1.1% are black).
So if the tests show that bias works both ways, shouldn’t we spend more time talking about white victims of racism, rather than white perpetrators? When a white friend asked me a similar question I felt deep frustration. It’s because the question assumes that we work in a racially neutral society where prejudice against one group is equivalent to another. We don’t.
I think of the gatekeepers in my life – not just the police officer I asked to record a crime for me but also the headteacher I asked not to expel me, the boss I asked to promote me – and in every instance I’ve sat opposite a white person and had to simply trust (what else is there to do?) that they wouldn’t view me differently because I’m not white. It’s a question of vulnerability. As long as systems of power remain white, racism against white people will not be the same as racism against people of other races.
I am, though, reluctant to dismiss anti-white racism altogether. Because the fact is, my friend and a lot of other white people in Britain genuinely believe racism affects them too: that people like me benefit more from positive action schemes than we suffer from negative discrimination. And they would never, ever use the word “racist” to describe themselves.
We need to acknowledge the frustrations of those white individuals who feel ignored by elites and who might vent this by turning against people of colour, or migrants. But taking apart the racist label and understanding that everyone is biased is an important first step in understanding how a racist society has affected us. Then we need to find a language that doesn’t conveniently overlook systems of power that are still set up to privilege one race: a white one.
Source: Mona Chalabi – The Guardian
When Is Racism Just Your Perception?
Remember the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”? When it comes to racism, we can change our relationship with this elephant, one response at a time.
I am not suggesting that victims, whose lives document the travesties and injustices of racism, could have, or should have done something differently. Nor am I attempting to address the elephant of institutional racism.
As a nation, we must continue, through the use of laws and education, to break the commitment to racism that was birthed in the cotton fields of early American wealth.
However, when it comes to common everyday encounters with racism, we can take a good, life-changing bite out of the everyday personal stress of racism by challenging our own default assumptions, and reactions to racism.
Of course, it is important to recognize racism and challenge it. It is equally important to challenge our default tendency to see racism where it may not exist.
A trip to the car wash this past weekend beautifully illustrates this:
I was third in line when the doors opened at 8am. Waiting behind the two other early birds at the register gave me time to find the perfect birthday card for the director of the play CITIZENthat I am rehearsing for.
When I reached the counter, I offered a cheery hello to the twenty-something cashier. Her hello back to me was not friendly, and her eye contact felt cold. I handed her the birthday card, along with my claim ticket for the wash.
As I was signing my debit card transaction, I remembered that I had no cash for a tip. Apologizing for any inconvenience, I asked the cashier to run my debit card again for the tip. She glared at me and said, “You could have just asked when you paid.”
She was right. I usually ask. The other woman who normally sits behind the counter would probably have reminded me of this, based on our regular routine. But today, that kind-face woman was nowhere to be found.
The audible sigh that parted this girl’s tight lips sounded like air being let out of a balloon, and her hot air caused me to take a step back. Had she behaved the same way with the two white people ahead of me? I had not been paying attention. But, this scenario and question was almost an exact replay of one of the vignettes depicting racism in CITIZEN.
I asked myself, “Is this girl a racist?” I caught myself readying to categorize her rudeness in the same racist context as the scene in the play. I stopped myself. If she is racist, then what? Was I going to argue with her about it?
I walked away from the counter slightly disturbed. In the waiting area, I opened my laptop, and tried to distract myself with email. But the rude encounter was still on my mind.
As an inner fitness trainer, I know the importance of inner congruency. Congruency is the lovely state of feeling aligned with one’s self — having our actions and feelings line up. In this moment, I wasn’t feeling congruent.
I had learned years ago that I literally experience inner discomfort when I don’t speak up about something that bothers me. This is one way the pain of being incongruent can enter the heart. It is one kind of pain when we allow another to stifle our voice. It is a different, more painful kind of hurt when we silence ourselves. I knew I needed to speak with the young girl to free myself of the uncomfortable feeling that disturbed my heart. Otherwise I would carry it home with me, keeping it around for who knows how long.
I approached the counter for a private chat with the girl. Before I opened my mouth I reminded myself of an inner fitness rule: Focus on my feelings and experience, instead of trying to make the other person wrong. Leading with a question always helps me follow this golden rule.
ME: I am curious. Did I do something to annoy you?
GIRL: (Sigh) No. I’m always like this in the morning. (Clearly, the girl knew exactly what I was talking about.) I’ve tried to work on it but this is just how I am.
ME: Well, that may be, but I spend a lot of money here…
GIRL: (Interrupting.) I know. I know. I’m working on it.
ME: …and I have to tell you that the way you were to me felt personal. That doesn’t feel good to me as a person or customer.
GIRL: (Girl looks up at me. Her exasperation, now, feels directed towards herself. She sighs again.) I am sorry. It wasn’t personal. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I know I have to change how I am.
Me: Well, thank you for saying so.
I left the counter feeling better. I had taken care of myself, without needing to verbally beat the girl up. I felt proud.
I do not know if this girl was racist, rude, or simply lacking business etiquette. My win was that I addressed my discomfort without leaping to default assumptions, or falling back on conditioning that would automatically label this encounter a racist moment.
Our minds get to choose how we see what we see. I believe in always taking the point of view that affirms our worth. This way, no matter how many rude, racist or otherwise unkind people we encounter, we do not have to let their bad behavior into our hearts.
The elephant of racism is one we will be chewing on for years to come. But we can change our default tendency to see everything through the lens of racism.
How do you start a conversation with children on America’s legacy of racial injustice? You wittell them the story of an artist who confronted segregation and exposed that legacy. A new picture book, Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, takes on the admirable task of translating challenging material to readers ages 5 to 8. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph, the book traces Parks’ journey from Fort Scott, Kansas, to Washington, D.C., as he nurtured his interest in photography as a way to document and expose oppression in the United States.
Inspired by Parks’ focus on Washington, D.C., in particular, Weatherford and Christoph produced writing and illustrations that highlight a very real American urban setting. While working on the project, Christoph retraced Parks’ steps in D.C., wandering through the same streets and landmarks to immerse himself in the environment. “It was so exciting,” Christoph said to The Huffington Post, “to be able to just go walk around and be inspired by the actual areas that he walked.”
Parks’ career blossomed in the nation’s capital, but eventually took him to Harlem, where he would shoot for Vogue and Life magazine, taking iconic portraits of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Muhammad Ali, among others. He’d go down in history for these thoughtful photo essays addressing prejudice and activism in the U.S., along with his forays into a variety of other artistic forms. You might also remember him as the director of the 1971 film “Shaft.”
Weatherfords’ book, though, keeps the scale small, honing in on the staging of Parks’ most famous piece, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” The photograph plays off the classic Grant Wood painting, replacing the memorable Iowa-bred couple, the man with a pitchfork in hand, with a lone black woman named Ella Watson, shown holding cleaning supplies in front of an American flag.
Picture book portraits
The portrait is a heavy photograph for any age demographic. According to the Library of Congress: “[Watson] had struggled alone after her mother had died and her father had been killed by a lynch mob. She had gone through high school, married and become pregnant. Her husband was accidentally shot to death two days before their daughter was born. By the time the daughter was eighteen, she (the daughter) had given birth to two illegitimate children, dying two weeks after the second child’s birth. What’s more, the first child had been stricken with paralysis a year before its mother died.”
“Through Gordon’s lens, her struggle gained a voice,” writes Weatherford, proving that clarity is the best tool for addressing heaviness. When discussing the difficulty of capturing that scene in illustration, Christoph stressed how he tried to preserve its simplicity. “That was the genius of the photo,” he said. “It’s just her with the tools of her trade in front of the American flag. So stark.”
And how have young readers received that narrative so far? Christoph reports that the images are already provoking discussion. The illustrator recounted how at a recent reading, inquisitive hands shot up immediately to ask about his segregation imagery. “Some of the first questions were, ‘Why did they have those signs?’ They couldn’t process that,” he said. With just a short picture book, the difficult conversation had begun.
This conversation-starter arrives at a time of renewed focus on Parks’ life and oeuvre. The Boston Museum of Fine Art’s exhibition “Back to Fort Scott” displays a series of Parks’ photographs investigating segregation in his hometown. Last week, the Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner saw the likes of Usher and Pharrell Williams take the stage to honor Parks’ legacy.
Weatherford and Christoph, though, pay homage to the artist in a different way: not with flashy performances but by translating his ideas to young audiences. Their work, like Parks’, challenges even young readers to ask what struggles lie unexposed — and how they can be given a voice.