Mrs. Meers, the controversial character, as seen in the 1967 movie version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” | Universal Pictures
The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts has dropped a planned staging of the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie after students complained about racist portrayals of Asians in the play.
Two students — Jasmine Luca and Tai Joselyn — described the controversy in a Tuesday essay for The Notebook, saying the play should be re-named Thoroughly Racist Millie.
“Millie depends on disturbing stereotypes toward Asians,” the duo wrote. “The lead character, Mrs. Meers, appears in yellow face and is directed to speak in a fake Chinese accent. But since Mrs. Meers is not Asian, what do you think happens when someone mimics a Chinese accent to almost a completely non-Chinese audience? Just look at any of the YouTube videos of this character purposefully mangling Chinese.” Read more »
The heads of Penn’s dorms are no longer called “faculty masters.”
Penn has changed the title to “faculty director.” The Daily Pennsylvanian reports it came after protests at other Ivy League schools cited the term as evocative of slavery.
(Penn’s dorms aren’t even called dorms; they are called “college houses.” Eh. It’s an Ivy League school, go figure.)
“The faculty and staff of [College Houses and Academic Services] have been mindful of ongoing developments on campuses across the country. These include concerns about the historical connotations of the title of ‘Faculty Master,’” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dennis DeTurck wrote in an email to college house faculty. “This small but important step will be taken immediately, and over the next few weeks all references in college house literature and on CHAS websites will be amended to reflect it.” Read more »
[Updated with news of hate crimes reward announcement.]
On Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Mayor-elect Jim Kenney as well as other officials and local religious leaders gathered at City Hall to respond to the pig head left at a North Philadelphia mosque on Sunday night.
Nutter also used it as an opportunity to deliver a blistering tirade against Donald Trump, who this week suggested closing the borders to Muslim immigrants entirely. Read more »
The only African-American officer on the Medford Township, N.J., police force is suing his employer and the township, alleging a pattern of racial discrimination in promotion, a hostile work environment and retaliation for testimony he gave during an internal investigation of his immediate supervisor, among other charges.
Officer Mark Hunsinger filed his lawsuit in Burlington County Court on October 10th. At a midday news conference December 7th, Walter L. Hudson Sr., founder and chairman of the National Awareness Alliance, NAACP New Jersey State President Richard Smith and Doug Long, the attorney representing Hunsinger, called on township officials to take action to rectify the alleged wrongdoing. Read more »
The torn “Black Lives Matter” sign outside Wayne’s Central Baptist Church. Photo | Daniel Shimberg
No sooner had this month’s issue of Philadelphia hit newsstands with its cover story “Racial Profiling on the Main Line” than one of the institutions featured in the story was hit with what they say is an act of vandalism.
Central Baptist Church in Wayne, which had planted a “Black Lives Matter” banner on its front lawn and received a flood of hostile calls and vague threats in return, kept the banner in place despite the criticism. But last week, the banner was torn nearly in two.
“It was the weekend after the story appeared,” said Tom Beers, pastoral partner at Central Baptist along with Laurie Sweigard. “We’ve taped it back together and will replace it soon.” Read more »
Clockwise from top left: Keith Taylor; Muneera Walker; Anita Friday; Harry Mobley Jr. with his sons Aseda, Omosesan and Akinyele Adebamgbe; Loraine Carter; Schoolly D, Crystal Blunt with her
son Michael. Photography by Colin Lenton
This past July, Jordan and Joshua Friday confronted one of those endless summer days that teenagers are given. They journeyed by bicycle to an aunt’s house to swim, met up with a friend, and stopped to get pizza. After lunch, the trio went looking for a fourth friend in the Greens of Waynesborough, a small housing development near their Berwyn home. Jordan and Joshua, 15-year-old African-American high-school students, were unfamiliar with this subdivision. They figured they’d reach the fourth kid on his cell phone or find his house. The identical twins, long and thin, both over six feet tall, were dressed in shorts and colorful t-shirts. They wore school backpacks slung over their shoulders, and bicycle helmets strapped tight to their heads. The twins — mom is a lawyer, dad is a doctor — pedaled slowly past wide lawns and big million-dollar houses, feeling right at home. But this development stretched several blocks from the main road.
The fourth boy didn’t answer his cell phone. The Fridays weren’t quite sure where he lived. And at some point, the white friend they’d come with pedaled ahead of them. He was almost a full block away when the Fridays noticed the SUV. Read more »
Nathaniel Williams (left). Photo | Sandy Smith
The officers who ordered 56-year-old Nathaniel Williams to his knees, then handcuffed him, in a stop connected to a reported robbery at a TD Bank branch in Haverford acted in accordance with department procedure, according to an internal review conducted by the Lower Merion Police Department.
The LMPD reviewed the incident in response to a complaint filed November 2nd by the Main Line branch of the NAACP concerning the October 26th stop. The stop also sparked a protest at the November 4th Township Commissioners meeting, where South Ardmore residents added their testimony of similar treatment by police and called for reforms in police practices and police-community relations. Read more »
The Courier-Post made an open records request recently, asking for the text messages that got nine corrections officers dismissed at the Camden County Jail. After some wrangling in court, the newspaper finally got the messages. Yikes.
As Jim Walsh details in a report today, the texts are incredibly racist. The n-word flows freely. One officer sent a text message saying a black Philadelphia Eagle “should be tied to a bumper and dragged.” One officer, during a conversation about New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio for some reason, said “Don’t forget his wife is a colored.” Texts called the African-American warden of the jail, David Owens, “HNIC.” That doesn’t stand for Hockey Night in Canada. Read more »
Coates | Nina Subin, Penguin Random House
I missed out on the hottest ticket in town when Ta-Nehisi Coates was in Philly in October for a talk at the Free Library based on his bestselling, National Book Award-nominated tome, Between the World and Me. (There is a streaming finalists reading tonight at 7; the awards will be announced tomorrow.)
Chances are, though, that if you are an avid consumer of ideas, you’re talking about him anyway, even if you missed the talk, haven’t read the book or one of its many excerpts, or missed his chat with Terry Gross on WHYY’s Fresh Air.
That’s because Coates has undeniably struck a national nerve at just the right moment. As the drumbeat of stories in which cops kill black men (and they are mostly men) with questionable use of force continues, along comes Coates to tell us this sort of thing is encoded in our nation’s DNA.
Like James Baldwin before him, Coates has cast himself as our racial Cassandra, reminding us that the debt for slavery remains unpaid and condemning society for failing to recognize this. And like Baldwin before him, Coates has decided that it’s best to reflect on his native land’s transgressions from afar — Paris, to which numerous African-Americans fed up with the United States have retreated. Read more »
A crowd of about 300 took to the middle of Broad Street Thursday evening to make a point about student debt and racial inequality.
As part of the Million Student March taking place nationwide, students from Temple, Penn, Community College of Philadelphia, and Drexel began at their own campuses and then converged at City Hall. Their demands are familiar: $15 an hour minimum wage, student debt forgiveness, and free education.
But much of the protest’s focus was on race, especially in light of the recent unrest at the University of Missouri and Yale University. Read more »