Race-Neutral College Admissions Ignore the Importance of Diversity

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

In The New York Times last week, there was a piece about college admissions and diversity in the wake of the Fisher v. University of Texas case, and the lawyer, Edward Blum who made the whole thing possible.

Blum, a glorified ambulance chaser, represented Abigail Fisher in the case in 2008 after she was rejected from the University of Texas as a potential member of the incoming freshman class. He sought her out to use her story as the case to push the issue to the high court.

Seeking people out is what Blum does as a professional race baiter.

For background’s sake, Fisher was a decent, though average, student with an 1180 on her SATs and a 3.59 GPA. Ninety-two percent of UT’s freshman class that year graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. Evidence suggests that Fisher fell short of the academic standard the university chose to impose, not a racial or ethnic one.

Read more »

10 Things You Should Know About Thomas Jefferson* Before You Tour ‘Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello’

Photo | Shutterstock

Photo | Shutterstock

This week, the National Constitution Center opened the doors to Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello, its six month-long exhibition about Thomas Jefferson. And to my surprise, the organizers didn’t engage in the customary American practice of sweeping slavery under the rug. In fact, they went right at it by including the word “Slavery” in their title and by addressing “the stories of six slave families who ‘lived’ and ‘worked’ at Jefferson’s plantation — the Fossett, Granger, Gillete, Hemings, Hern, and Hubbard families — and their descendants who fought for justice and helped bring to light their ancestors’ lives and values.”

Nice, huh? Well, yes. But only kinda. By that, I mean they didn’t really “live.” Instead, they actually “suffered and survived.” And they didn’t really “work.” Instead, they actually “slaved and toiled.” But let’s not quibble over semantics. Instead, let’s go the to heart of the matter by enlightening you about who — and what — Thomas Jefferson truly was.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about him:

10 Things You Should Know About Thomas Jefferson* Before You Tour ‘Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello’ »

Race and the Roots
of Philly Transit Strikes

In this Aug. 6, 1944 file photo an armed soldier stands guard in the back of a trolley in Philadelphia. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent troops to break up a strike by transit workers who were protesting the hiring and promotion of African-Americans. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)

In this Aug. 6, 1944 file photo an armed soldier stands guard in the back of a trolley in Philadelphia. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent troops to break up a strike by transit workers who were protesting the hiring and promotion of African-Americans. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)

As this is being typed, the news reports about contract negotiations between SEPTA and Transport Workers Union Local 234 sound increasingly optimistic. One of the main sticking points, pensions, has been resolved, and both the transit agency and TWU Local 234 head Willie Brown have issued statements saying that they hope a strike can be averted.

Yet some issues, including health care and worker surveillance, remain unresolved, and the union still stands ready to take a vote to strike when contracts for two TWU 234 suburban bargaining units expire on April 7th.

You may recall that initial strike threat was announced with incendiary language from Brown. Many, including this writer, found that rhetoric off-putting, or worse. But, as with so much else in this city, if you dig down far enough, you might just hear the ghosts of the past raising their voices through the mouth of Brown.

In this case, the ghosts are those of a racially motivated walkout that brought the TWU onto the local labor scene — and Federal troops onto the city’s streetcars.

The two events are connected: The TWU had just won the right to represent Philadelphia’s transit workers in 1944 — right in the middle of a three-year fight to get the Philadelphia Transportation Company (which ran buses and trolleys in the city) to end discrimination against black workers.

Read more »

10 Spring 5Ks to Have on Your Radar

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

We did it, guys. We survived the long, cold, dreary Winter of Doom and have finally (for good?) made it to warmer weather. So in the spirit of getting outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, and sweating juuuuust a little, we’d like to bring your attention to some of fun upcoming races—all 5Ks, so they’re doable, no matter your fitness level. And these aren’t, er, boring out-and-backs on West River Drive, either. These races will take you to new running locales in our area, including a vineyard, a nature preserve, and the Philadelphia Zoo (twice!).

Happy running!

Read more »

The #CancelColbert Controversy: Should Racial Insensitivity Be a Fireable Offense?

colbert-cancelcolbert-asian-racism

Twitter is one of those places where there is always outrage, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which part of the outrage war really has legs.

Last week, Stephen Colbert found himself in the middle of crossfire for a tweet from the Colbert Report deemed offensive to Asians.

Quickly, a #CancelColbert hashtag gained momentum in protest. Colbert has since acknowledged the tweet (which came from the show’s account, not his) in the same brand of schtick and satire, satisfying few:

Read more »

Five Ways Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Could Help Philly

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By now, you’ve probably heard about President Obama’s new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The collaboration between foundations, policy makers, and private businesses wants to better understand the obstacles facing black and Latino boys and young men and then eliminate barriers to success.

The initiative’s Task Force is a made up of executive departments and federal agencies that will examine policies and programs across the nation that best serve black and Latino males. The Task Force will also recommend “incentives for adoption of policy by state, local, and private decision makers in order to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.”

But perhaps you’re wondering why this this needed. According to a statement released by the White House, “As recently as 2013, only 14 percent of black boys and 18 percent of Hispanic boys scored proficient or above on the 4th grade reading component of the National Assessment of Educational Progress compared to 42 percent of white boys and 21 percent of black and Hispanic girls. Youth who cannot read ‘proficiently, by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school by 19.”

Read more »

Japanese Actor Makoto Hirano Calls Lantern Theater’s Julius Caesar Racist

lantern theater julius caesar racist japanese

Lantern Theater Company is in the middle of a run of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar at St. Stephen’s Theater. The setting is medieval Japan.

The City Paper didn’t like it. Inquirer critic Toby Zinman wasn’t much of a fan, calling the show “intriguing and frustrating.” And now Philadelphia theater artist Makoto Hirano, a native of Japan and samurai descendant, has deemed the show “racist.” Read more »

On Spike Lee’s Gentrification Speech, or Why Won’t They Build a Fancy New Grocery Store in Mantua?

Photo | shutterstock.com

Photo | shutterstock.com

There has been considerable ink dedicated to chronicling the ongoing battle between culture and capital as Brooklyn becomes the epicenter of hipster chic.  Of all the things that I’ve read, this and this are easily the most demonstrative of the high cost of “neighborhood revitalization.”

Brooklyn native and architect of Brooklyn Boheme Cool, Spike Lee, has been vocal on the issues surrounding neighborhood turnover, especially as it has directly impacted his parents. “We been here!” was his refrain as he spoke honestly, candidly and truthfully about the erasures of peoples and cultures that happens when someone else decides to make an “investment.”

“Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed,” he said at Pratt Institute for a lecture in celebration of Black History Month. “And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf*ckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294 [...] So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!”

What’s frustrating is that Lee’s words were characterized as a “rant,” casting his ideas as unintelligible, unfounded or otherwise easily dismissible. What Lee said about Brooklyn can be said of many newfound “business corridors” that see an influx of typically younger, monied folks that cause the displacement of existing, long-term residents.

There are some who call that progress.

Read more »

« Older Posts