Friday, July 31, 2009
TGIF with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people he called “agents of change,” including Harvey Milk, Jack Kemp, Sidney Poitier and Desmond Tutu. “These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds,” said Obama. “Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive.” Hey, have any advertising people ever received the honor—or are they resigned to settle for an ADCOLOR® Award?
• Alaska Natives filed a lawsuit to stop drilling and exploration for a copper and gold mine above a wild salmon sanctuary, charging the action would violate the state’s Constitution by letting things move forward without full environmental review. Wonder if former Governor Sarah “Drill, Baby, Drill” Palin even knows what Alaska Natives are.
From The New York Daily News…
House OKs pardon for first black boxing champ Jack Johnson
By Richard Sisk
Daily News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Heavyweight Jack Johnson, the first black boxing champ, deserves a presidential pardon, the House unanimously concluded Wednesday.
A resolution urging a pardon by President Obama cleared the House after previously being passed by the Senate last month.
Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), chief sponsor of the bill along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), called Johnson “a trailblazer and a legend.”
King urged swift consideration by Obama of a pardon for Johnson, who was killed in a car crash in 1946.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act against “transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes.” The woman, who later became his second wife, was white. Johnson fled to France and served a year in jail on his return to the U.S. in 1920.
Johnson’s third wife, Irene Pineau, said at his death: “I loved him because of his courage. He faced the world unafraid. There wasn’t anybody or anything he feared.”
Thursday, July 30, 2009
From The New York Daily News…
Boston cop Justin Barrett suspended for calling Henry Louis Gates a ‘jungle monkey’
By Corky Siemaszko, Daily News Staff Writer
A Boston cop insisted he was not a racist as he apologized for calling Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates a “banana-eating jungle monkey” in a mass e-mail.
“I did not mean to offend anyone,” Officer Justin Barrett told WCVB-TV. “The words were being used to characterize behavior, not describe anyone.”
Barrett admitted it was a “poor choice of words.”
“I didn’t mean it in a racist way,” he added. “I treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
Boston Mayor Tom Menino said he doesn’t buy Barrett’s explanation and wants the officer, who has already been suspended, fired.
“He’s gone,” Menino said. “G-o-n-e. I don’t care, it’s like cancer. You don’t keep those cancers around.”
Barrett, 36, who is also a captain in the National Guard, said he will fight to keep his job. He said he was “just venting” about the July 16 arrest of Gates by a white Cambridge cop that became a national discussion about race when President Obama said the officers acted “stupidly.”
“People are making it about race,” Barrett said. “It is not about race.”
But it may be about whether Barrett has any sense.
Barrett got into hot water after he fired off the note to his buddies in the Guard — and, inexplicably, The Boston Globe.
In the email, Barrett called the Globe story “jungle monkey gibberish” and wrote that Gates’ “first priority should be to get off the phone and comply with police.”
“For if I was the officer he verbally assaulted like a … jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC deserving of his belligerent non-compliance,” Barrett wrote.
OC is pepper spray.
Barrett went on to question Gates’ credentials, called him a “God damned fool,” and twice challenged the paper to “ax” him what he thinks.
“I am not a racist, but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they claim is freedom,” Barrett wrote.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Toilet humor in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Former Senator Larry Craig has opened a consulting firm focusing on energy issues. Client meetings will take place in airport toilet stalls.
• Michael Vick has been conditionally reinstated to the NFL, and might be allowed to play again by the sixth game of the regular season. Signing up the quarterback could turn into a real dogfight.
• Verizon announced plans to dump 8,000 landline workers. Can you fire me now? Good.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
After the brews, let’s start teaching
By Jesse Jackson
President Obama has stated that the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates in his home provides a “teachable moment” about racial profiling, and the “relations between police officers and minority communities.”
The president’s remarks—that the police “acted stupidly”—sparked a backlash that the White House has tried to defuse by inviting arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley and Gates to sit down over a beer at the White House. The meeting, slated to take place in the next few days, will no doubt result in consensus that we should all get along, and how hard it is to do so given conflicting histories and perspectives.
This will defuse the furor, but it won’t provide much of a lesson for the teachable moment. Racial profiling isn’t a matter that is unique to Gates and Crowley. The reality is, as the president suggested, despite the great progress this nation has made on racial discrimination—as attested by the president’s own election—we are still a long way from a post-racial society.
African Americans across the country understood Gates’ anger at being challenged in his home. Racial profiling remains a widespread reality. DWB—driving while black—is still more likely to get you stopped in areas across the country. Young African Americans are more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be charged, more likely to be arrested if charged, more likely to do time than be fined if convicted. In schools across the country, African-American boys and girls are more likely to be disciplined and more likely to be suspended for the same behaviors as their white classmates.
This isn’t a secret. We have passed laws and set up agencies to remedy these practices. Police and fire departments in many urban areas have made significant efforts to overcome them. Progress has been made as police forces have become more integrated, but we still have a long way to go.
Moreover, as the president stated in his speech earlier this month to the NAACP, “The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation’s legacy of discrimination has left behind; inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect.”
African Americans are more likely to go to poor and crowded schools; more likely to be unemployed, more likely to lack health insurance, more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders. These structural inequalities, as the president noted, require public action and initiative to change.
So while it would be a good thing for Gates and Crowley to apologize one to another and shake hands, that won’t fulfill the “teachable moment.” It wouldn’t have been sufficient if the bus driver in Montgomery had apologized to Rosa Parks, and Ms. Parks had apologized for refusing to obey his order to go to the back of the bus. That would not have addressed the basic question of access to public accommodations. It’s the policy that must be addressed, not just the personal interaction.
Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that this is a “nation of cowards” when it comes to discussing race. It is particularly hard for an African-American president who wants sensibly to establish that he is the president of all Americans.
But the Gates arrest—and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Ricci case, overturning New Haven’s decision to throw out a test that had a discriminatory effect, that may toll the death knell to affirmative action—do provide teachable moments. It is time to teach. We need a White House Conference on Structural Inequality and Racial Profiling.
We’ve acknowledged that racial discrimination is bad and passed laws and programs to remedy it. But as Dr. King taught us, that is not enough. We have to fund the programs and enforce the laws. So let’s detail the reality of the practices and structural inequalities that the president mentioned, evaluate the programs and laws that exist to remedy them, fund and enforce the law, and set up goals and timetables to measure our progress.
ANA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Liodice stars in a bizarre video to discuss industry diversity. Don’t expect this mess to go viral like Chocolate Rain.
First, one would think the Association of National Advertisers might consult with, say, an advertising agency before executing a video production. This thing resembles an America’s Funniest Home Videos reject.
Liodice essentially admits to the rampant exclusivity by stating, “…there are no specific facts or staffing data that we can confidently rely upon, but all you have to do is look with your eyes and observe that we are not a diverse industry.”
Next, Liodice joins the many Madison Avenue honchos who recognize the industry’s historic failure to create change by declaring, “The reality is, is that we really need to do more.” The reality is, no other profession on Earth so consistently repeats such a lame line in order to deflect attention from the collective leadership’s lack of responsibility.
Finally, Liodice unveils the latest brainstorm, which involves delegating diversity to the ADCOLOR® Industry Coalition. The ANA bigwig urges folks to become ADCOLOR® members—cha-ching!—and help generate more publicity and attention to the alleged accomplishments bringing inclusive harmony. Liodice contradicts his earlier admission by saying the hype is intended “…to demonstrate, in fact, there is far more progress than may meet the eye.”
Um, you don’t have to look with your eyes and observe the real deal here. Simply use your nose to sniff the bullshit.
Monday, July 27, 2009
If Jacko doesn’t win the ADCOLOR® Legend Award, the contest is a total sham.
Hey, the award icon even looks like a scene from a Michael Jackson music video.
Hating Monday with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A new study showed obesity and weight-related medical issues cost the U.S. about $147 billion in 2008. “If you really want to rein in health-care dollars, you have to get people dieting, exercising and living a healthier lifestyle,” said an expert from the study. “Otherwise somebody is going to be paying for treating these weight-related illnesses, either the government or employers.” Somebody ought to charge Mickey D’s. Although the fast feeder is probably responding to the news by updating its iconic signs to read, “Over 147 Billion Served.”
• Not surprisingly, the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. affair has inspired racist comments at The Root. Some of the remarks have been removed, but others will remain for public display. “For the most part, as long as the comments are not threats of violence, and the most vicious, nasty, racist comments, we leave them up,” said an editor for the site. Maybe they should bring in a special editorial board comprised of Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter.
All the drama surrounding the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. affair makes one think about the racial profiling that happens in the advertising industry.
On Madison Avenue, Blacks are routinely pulled over and presumed to be:
Chief Diversity Officers
Visitors From The Multicultural “Partner” Agency
Diversity Advisory Committee Members
Inner-City Outreach Program Interns
And if an incident like the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. affair ever took place, the 4As President would probably invite the opposing parties to Madison Avenue for
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Read the Ad Age story below. Then check out the MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following.
As Lines Continue to Blur, Some of Today’s Top Hispanic Shops Aren’t Hispanic After All
Ad Age’s Hispanic Fact Pack Ranks Agencies and Uncovers Latino Trends
By Laurel Wentz
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Agencies are trampling the traditional boundaries between general-market and multicultural accounts to win business in a tough economy. Enough, in fact, that seven of the shops in Ad Age’s ranking of the top 50 U.S. Hispanic agencies this year aren’t primarily Latino shops.
The changes are coming swiftly enough that four of the seven agencies this year are new to the ranking, which appears in Ad Age’s sixth-annual Hispanic Fact Pack, published today. Five non-Hispanic agencies that appeared on last year’s list have dropped off.
Independent GlobalHue, originally an African-American shop, now gets 50% of its revenue from a GlobalHue Latino unit that recently restructured with a number of high-level Hispanic execs. It now ranks as the fourth-biggest Hispanic shop, up from No. 7 last year.
In one anomaly in the U.S. Hispanic market, full-service Hispanic agencies with hefty media departments—which have all but disappeared from the largest general-market agencies—are competing with big media agencies that are trying to capture their clients’ multicultural business by growing and packaging their own expertise in units such as Omnicom Group’s OMD Latino and WPP’s Mindshare Multicultural.
Just two years ago, WPP’s Mediaedge:cia opened a unit called MEC Bravo, based in Mediaedge’s New York office and run by the media agency’s former CEO in Argentina, Gonzalo Del Fa. MEC Bravo is now tied for third-largest Hispanic media shop, according to Ad Age’s Hispanic Fact Pack ranking. Last year two Hispanic creative agencies, Omnicom-backed LatinWorks and independent Republica, started their own media departments, a move that has helped LatinWorks grow its business with clients such as Pizza Hut.
The new normal
Blurring the lines between who handles what business isn’t new. Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson, for instance, has such a lock on MasterCard’s “Priceless” ad franchise that the agency produces Spanish-language work, too. But it’s increasingly the new normal. When Volkswagen’s U.S. Hispanic agency, Creative on Demand, does a Spanish-language ad for Volkswagen of America, it usually does an English-language one, too. And at Omnicom-owned Hispanic shop Alma DDB, Chief Creative Officer Luis Miguel Messianu troubleshoots for biggest client McDonald’s Corp. as far away as Romania, as well as handling Hispanic, urban and general market assignments in the U.S.
Hispanics themselves often live in two worlds, going back and forth between English and Spanish, even as demographic patterns are being reversed. In today’s America, 61% of Hispanic adults were born outside the U.S.—but 88% of Hispanic children were born in this country.
Marketers short on time and money appreciate go-anywhere agencies. In a microcosm of the U.S. market, small agency Walton Isaacson handles African-American work for Toyota’s Lexus, has pitched in on general-market projects and recently hired Rochelle Newman-Carrasco as chief Hispanic strategist after Lexus inquired about Hispanic capabilities. This summer the agency organized Lexus events in two cities that were planned as general-market events for affluent attendees drawn from dealers’ mailing lists. As it turned out, the general market was mainly African-Americans in Atlanta and Hispanics in Miami.
Some agencies are positioning themselves as being more about cultural convergence than ethnic labels. Project 2050, a small New York shop that says it helps marketers reach diverse consumers, just hired as chief creative Bobbito Garcia, described as “a curator of underground culture.” CEO Phil Colon compares the move to the agency’s 2005 hiring of then-underground street artist Shepard Fairey as founding creative director. Mr. Fairey went on to create the iconic Obama image plastered everywhere during the last presidential campaign.
¡Ay, caramba! The Taco Bell Chihuahua must be spinning in its grave. As different cultures often see the same events in different ways, here’s the MultiCultClassics point-of-view on the scenarios presented by Ad Age.
Uno. Ad Age wrote, “Agencies are trampling the traditional boundaries between general-market and multicultural accounts to win business in a tough economy.” It’s probably more accurate to say that Whites are remapping the borders, raiding the undiscovered country of Latino marketing in search of mucho dinero. GlobalHue is the oddball, yet its uniqueness is mostly based on the shop’s original goal of servicing all the top minority segments. To write that GlobalHue was “originally an African-American shop” is a bit strange too, as many clients employ the place as their African-American shop. The agency is likely considered to be in every major racial/ethnic category except general market.
Dos. Full-service Hispanic agencies battling with big media agencies is not an “anomaly.” It’s business as usual—another example of Whites seeking to dominate the game.
Tres. “The new normal” is a polite term for neo-racism in the industry. As always, the White agencies are allowed to handle any business available, while the minority shops are systematically shut out from vying for general market work. The examples of Latinos leading on projects are extreme cases, paling in comparison to the cross-cultural steals executed by White counterparts. Blurring the lines? Blurring the truth is a better phrase.
Cautro. The Age Age story inspires a new term you won’t find in the Hispanic Fact Pack: Greengos—Gringos seeking Latinos’ green.
The New York Post story below inspired the brief MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following…
A Jihad on Bruno
By David Brown
Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after being threatened by a terrorist organization that is angered at its portrayal in the film “Bruno.”
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, said it was “very upset” that it was featured in the movie, starring Baron Cohen’s homosexual fashionista alter ego.
Baron Cohen’s Austrian character ridicules the terrorist group when he attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the Martyrs’ Brigades.
The British comic is taking the threat seriously and has improved security arrangements for himself and his family in preparation for violent reprisals.
The Martyrs’ Brigades has issued a statement to a Jerusalem-based journalist including a veiled threat against Baron Cohen, 37.
“We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man,” it said. “The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”
The group condemned the use of the interview.
“According to what we checked, there was no meeting about the real context of the film,” the statement said. “This was a dirty use of our brother, Ayman, and we don’t accept that the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is part of the film.”
The group is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings, and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.
Baron Cohen’s Austrian character is shown telling Abu Aita: “I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al Qaeda is so 2001.” Before Abu Aita can respond, Bruno suggests that he remove his moustache, explaining: “Because your King Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa.”
Abu Aita claims that he was tricked into appearing in the film and has insisted that he is no longer involved in the Martyrs’ Brigades. He has threatened to sue Baron Cohen.
“This man, I think he is not a man,” Abu Aita said. “He is not saying the truth about me. He lied.”
Abu Aita’s lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, has said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios alleging that the terrorist reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and that the gay association could get him killed by Palestinians.
Abu Ahmad said: “This joke is very dangerous. We are not in the United States, we are not in Europe, we are in the Middle East, and the world operates differently here.” The Times of London
Cambridge University graduate Sacha Baron Cohen apparently didn’t spend any time learning about folks like Salman Rushdie. Otherwise, Baron Cohen might have realized it’s not too smart to joke around with people driven by strong spiritual and religious beliefs—especially when they’ve been known to react violently over such slights.
At one point, Baron Cohen and Universal Pictures had invited GLAAD representatives to preview and comment on the film—and the comedian and studio ultimately ignored every suggestion offered. Maybe they should have held private screenings with the Martyrs’ Brigades too.
Universal Pictures displayed monumental arrogance when first stating, “While any work that dares to address relevant cultural sensitivities might be misinterpreted by some or offend others, we believe the overwhelming majority of the audience will understand and appreciate the film’s inarguably positive intentions, which we’ve seen demonstrated whenever we have shown it.” Hey, the underwhelming minority misinterpretations and offenses need to be addressed after all.
It’s also ironic that in Baron Cohen’s previous film, Borat, the title character showed absolute terror when confronting Jews. Might Baron Cohen find himself in a real-life scenario of paranoia and fear?
Most people probably believe the Martyrs’ Brigades are overreacting. And let’s hope the threats don’t lead to actual trouble. At the same time, it’s disturbing to see how far the offended have to go to get the attention of the offenders.
From The New York Times…
Meet the New Elite, Not Like the Old
By Helene Cooper
WASHINGTON — They are the children of 1969 — the year that America’s most prestigious universities began aggressively recruiting blacks and Latinos to their nearly all-white campuses.
No longer would Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia be the domain of the privileged. Instead, in response to the national soul-searching prompted by the civil rights movement, America’s premier colleges would try to become more representative of the population as a whole.
Forty years later, America is being led, to a striking extent, by a new elite, a cohort of the best and the brightest whose advancement was formed, at least in part, by affirmative action policies. From Barack and Michelle Obama (Columbia, Princeton, Harvard) to Eric Holder (Columbia) to Sonia Sotomayor (Princeton, Yale) to Valerie Jarrett (Michigan, Stanford), the country is now seeing, in full flower, the fruition of this wooing of minorities to institutions that for much of the nation’s history have groomed America’s leaders.
And yet the consequences of that change remain unresolved, as became clear on Friday, when Mr. Obama grappled a second time with the arrest of the Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his own home.
The incident, the president said, offered the potential to soothe longstanding distrust between minorities and police officers. But it also laid bare another reality, that the children of 1969, even those who now occupy niches at the top of society, regard their status as complicated, ambiguous and vulnerable.
“Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive — as opposed to negative — understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio,” Mr. Obama said.
It was a reminder that Mr. Obama, in addition to being the most powerful American, is also the fulfillment of the ideals embraced by Ivy League minority recruiters in 1969. Mr. Gates entered Yale that year, as one of 96 black freshmen. Today that number seems small. But there had been only six black students just three years before.
Mr. Gates belonged to the first affirmative action wave at top universities — a wave that continued into the 1970s and the 1980s. I was one of its beneficiaries. A black 17-year-old from Monrovia, Liberia, I was one of some 200 black freshmen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1983.
My first roommate was a white student from Seagrove, N.C., whose SAT scores and grade-point average were higher than mine. Privately, I consoled myself that I had qualifications that she didn’t: I could name the capital of every country in Africa; countries she had never heard of. I knew where the Zambezi River emptied into the Indian Ocean. None of that had been on the SAT.
But every now and then I feared I was faking it, that my white classmates had something I didn’t. There were things they seemed to know instinctively, that I had to look up. I remember getting laughed at during a game of Pictionary when I couldn’t come up with the word for a giant bird landing on a lawn with a baby in its mouth.
My feelings of inadequacy were not unusual, said David L. Evans, the Saturn/Apollo electrical engineer hired by Harvard in 1969 to help lead its affirmative action program. When Mr. Evans visited public high schools in Arkansas in search of promising black students, he was met with skepticism. “Even people who didn’t have any mean-spiritedness would say to the students, ‘You going to be up there with the Kennedys?’ ” he recalled. “ ‘How do you think you can make it there?’ ”
There was anxiety, too, among the originators of race-based affirmative action programs. “The idealistic version of why these universities embraced racial affirmative action is that they said, ‘Hey, we’re in the business of training elites, it would be better for America if there were a diverse elite,’ ” said Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and author of “The Big Test,” a history of the SAT and the rise of America’s meritocracy. To its architects, the minority recruitment was the next phase for universities that for years had paved the way for whites, particularly the offspring of upper-class alumni, Mr. Lemann said.
“The cynical version of why they did this is they said, ‘We can’t control this country, it’s becoming too diverse, we need to socialize the brighter minorities and make them more like us.’ ”
In many ways, being molded into people “more like us” gave the children of 1969 an advantage denied most of their white counterparts. They learned to navigate within a second world. They also absorbed some of its ideas and values. And they paved the way for the next generation.
“We had to go through this phase of larger integration for Barack Obama to be possible,” Mr. Gates said in an interview a few days after his arrest. “It would have been impossible for Barack Obama to go from a historic black school to become president, at this time. The whole point is that a broad swath of America had to be able to identify with him.”
It also enabled Mr. Obama to run “the most race-blind campaign” of any black presidential candidate, said Gwen Ifill, the PBS news reporter whose book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” examines the rise of African-Americans in politics.
Perhaps. But the children of 1969 dwell in a complex world. They retain an ethnic identity that includes its own complement of cultural, historical and psychological issues and considerations. This emerged at Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. And it emerged again last week, when Mr. Obama joked in the White House East Room that if he ran afoul of the police, “I’d get shot.” In saying this, he seemed to draw on the fears of black men across the United States, including those within the new power elite.
What Mr. Obama seemed to be demonstrating was what Mr. Lemann of Columbia calls a “double consciousness” that allows the children of 1969 to flow more easily between the world which their skin color bequeathed them and the world which their college degree opened up for them.
It’s the same double consciousness I acquired at U.N.C., though I didn’t think about it that way as a student. Sure, my white friends were learning a little more about black (and African) culture from me. But I was absorbing much more from them, since they surrounded me in such great number. At the time it seemed I had the advantage; I would leave college having gotten much more from my interactions with my white friends than they could possibly have gotten from me. And the principal thing I learned was how to make them feel at ease around me.
Except, of course, on those occasions when one can’t. Life outside the university doesn’t duplicate the conditions of university life.
“I can’t wear my Harvard gown everywhere I go,” Professor Gates said. “We — all of us in the crossover generation — have multiple identities, and being black trumps all of those other identities.”
On Friday Mr. Obama said he hoped Mr. Gates’s incident might become a “teachable moment.” It is a daunting task for the children of 1969: finding out whether the double consciousness they honed in the Ivy League can actually get this country to listen — and react — to race in a different way.
Helene Cooper, a White House correspondent for The Times, is the author of “The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood.”
Saturday, July 25, 2009
From The Chicago Tribune…
Black males’ fear of racial profiling very real, regardless of class
Several African American professionals find professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s recent encounter with police all too easy to relate to. Their lingering question is when to speak up.
By Richard Fausset and P.J. Huffstutter
Reporting from Atlanta and Fort Wayne, Ind.
Like Henry Louis Gates Jr., they are professionals, men of status and achievement who have excelled in a nation that once shunned black men.
And for many of them, their only shock—upon learning of the celebrated scholar’s recent run-in with police—was the moment of recognition.
They know too well the pivotal moment Gates faced at his Massachusetts home. It was that moment of suspicion when confronted by police, the moment one wonders, in a flash of panic, anger or confusion: Maybe I am being treated this way because I’m black.
Next comes the pivotal question: Do I protest or just take it?
Kwame Dunston says he has made the calculated choice to take it—repeatedly. The public school administrator says he has been pulled over more than 20 times in the last decade, but has rarely been issued a ticket. What factor other than race, he wondered, would account for all of those stops?
“It’s more important for me to make it home than to fight for a cause I’m not going to win,” he said.
Dunston, 36, a New York resident who was in Atlanta this week, pointed to the interior of his 2006 Toyota Camry. It was showroom-clean. He doesn’t want police to think he has something to hide.
“My job,” Dunston said, “is to make sure they don’t have any question about what’s inside the car.”
Such anxiety, deeply rooted in the African American experience, has endured into the era of the first black president.
For many black men, the feeling of remaining inherently suspect never goes away, no matter their wealth and status and the efforts by police forces to avoid abuses in profiling.
Lawrence Otis Graham, author of a book on affluent African Americans, said wealthy blacks may, in fact, be subjected to more racial profiling than others.
In upscale white neighborhoods, they sometimes stand out. In fancy restaurants, they’re sometimes mistaken for help. “We become almost numbed by the constant presumptions,” said Graham.
Those issues came crashing back into the spotlight with the arrest of Gates, a 58-year-old Harvard University professor, on July 16.
Early that afternoon, Cambridge police showed up at Gates’ home, responding to a tip on a possible break-in. Gates was inside the house, after reportedly forcing open a stuck door.
According to his police report, Sgt. James Crowley asked Gates to step outside to talk, and Gates began screaming, accusing Crowley of being a “racist police officer.”
Gates was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, a charge later dropped. A number of people—most prominently, President Obama—rushed to his defense.
But Lorenzo Wyche, 32, is among those who wonder whether Gates picked the right time to take a stand. Wyche, a black restaurateur and Atlanta resident, said that his generation may not be as quick to ascribe nefarious motives to police as Gates’ generation. “I didn’t grow up with dogs chasing me down,” he said.
And yet Wyche is also gripped at times by the gnawing suspicion that his black skin makes him a target. He was recently driving in midtown Atlanta. In front of him, an attractive white woman walked across the road, catching his eye. Behind him, a white policeman turned on his lights and pulled Wyche over.
But there would be no fireworks. The officer warned Wyche about an expired tag on his Porsche, and drove away.
“So that was my moment,” Wyche said, with a laugh. “Did he run my tag just because I stared at this white girl?”
Wyche figures he will never know whether he was profiled. He prefers this mystery to the possible more serious outcomes. At the same time, the difficulty in proving profiling has created problems for police. Last year, members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s civilian oversight panel were incredulous when department officials announced that not one of more than 300 racial profiling complaints was found to have merit.
A Times review of department documents later showed that no claims of profiling—more than 1,200—had been upheld in at least six years. (Racial profiling isn’t confined to black men; women and other groups can be targeted as well.)
But LAPD Chief William J. Bratton dismissed criticism, saying that profiling allegations hinge on what the officer was thinking, and therefore are nearly impossible to prove. “How,” he said, “do you get inside someone’s mind?”
For some black men, the solution is to try to avoid the possibility of confrontation altogether. Graham, the author, lives with his family on a large spread in the mostly white suburb of Westchester, N.Y. When the house alarm goes off, his wife goes to the front gate to meet police. He fears that if he goes instead, they will mistake him for an intruder.
Vibert White, a University of Central Florida history professor, recalled driving along an Indiana highway and spotting a line of cars pulled to the side of the road. All of the drivers were black men. So White, too, pulled over, figuring that was expected of black men.
An officer walked up and asked him why he had stopped.
“I told him that I’d seen the line of cars and just reacted,” said White, 51. “He told me, ‘Sir, you can go on with your business.’ I realized how deeply ingrained this lesson had become—of not causing a ruckus, of just playing the game, of doing what you needed to do in order to live your life.”
Years earlier, he said, he had challenged a traffic stop and ended up in handcuffs.
In Detroit, Tony Spearman-Leach, 42, chief communications officer of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, said he gets tailed by police three or four times a year. He gets pulled over, on average, once a year, but has never received a ticket.
He keeps his replies clear, respectful and short. Each time the officer walks up to his black 1991 Volvo S70 sedan, his mind weighs the same questions.
“I know it’s because I’m black, and I’m driving the most conservative car you can get your hands on,” Spearman-Leach said. “But you have to weigh what to do. If I fight, am I going to escalate the matter? Is this a battle worth fighting?”
Leach’s answer has always been no. But before the Gates incident, other black voices had been encouraging people to say yes.
In January, Baratunde Thurston, a contributor to the influential blog Jack & Jill Politics (which bills itself as a voice of the “black bourgeoisie”) argued that with a black president entering office, it was important to speak up about such issues, rather than bury the lingering problems of race.
In the past, speaking up has sometimes brought real change. In 1992, Robert L. Wilkins, a Washington attorney, refused a Maryland trooper’s attempt to search his rental car with a drug dog. His federal lawsuit forced the state to enact a new training regimen for troopers, and to end race-based blanket drug sweeps.
But fighting back does not always yield such results.
In 1997, Aaron Campbell argued with sheriff’s deputies in Orange County, Fla., after he was pulled over for a suspected lane-change violation. He was pepper-sprayed and thrown in a police car. Campbell happened to be a major in the Miami-Dade Police Department.
“I think that if I was a white major on the turnpike, and was stopped unlawfully, they would have said, ‘Hey, major, go on about your business,’ “ Campbell said.
Campbell was found guilty of resisting arrest. The sheriff’s deputies said race had nothing to do with it. Campbell’s federal civil suit went nowhere.
Times staff writers Kate Linthicum and Joel Rubin contributed to this report.
From The Associated Press…
Author E. Lynn Harris dies at age 54
The Associated Press
Long before the secret world of closeted black gay men came to light in America, bestselling author E. Lynn Harris introduced a generation of black women to the phenomenon known as the “down low.”
Harris endeared such characters to readers who were otherwise unfamiliar with them, using themes and backdrops familiar to urban professionals, conditioned by their upbringings, their church leaders or their friends to condemn and criticize homosexuality in the African-American community. A proud Razorback cheerleader at the University of Arkansas who struggled with his own sexuality before becoming a pioneer of gay black fiction, Harris died Thursday at age 54 while promoting his latest book in Los Angeles.
Publicist Laura Gilmore said Harris died Thursday night after being stricken at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, and a cause of death had not been determined. She said Harris, who lived in Atlanta, fell ill on a train to Los Angeles a few days ago and blacked out for a few minutes, but seemed fine after that.
An improbable and inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive before taking up writing, selling the novel Invisible Life from his car as he visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta. He had unprecedented success for an openly gay black author and his strength as a romance writer led some to call him the “male Terry McMillan.”
In 15 years, Harris became the genre’s most successful author, penning 11 titles, ten of them New York Times bestsellers. More than four million of his books are in print.
McMillan had just spoken to Harris about a week ago, to tell him she would pay tribute to him in her upcoming book by having a character read one of his titles, And This Too Shall Pass.
“He was thrilled,” McMillan said. “I loved his spirit and generosity. I loved that he found his own niche in the world of fiction, and I’m grateful to have known him. This just breaks my heart.”
He went on to mainstream success with works such as the novel Love of My Own and the memoir What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.
Harris’ storytelling fell into several categories, including gay and lesbian fiction, African American fiction and urban fiction. But he found success in showing readers a new side of African American life: the secret world of professional, bisexual black men living as heterosexuals.
His readers, many of them young black, professional women of dating age, were fascinated and shocked to learn that the men in their lives could be attracted to other men. Harris’ vivid storytelling — at least somewhat grounded in his reality and of others whom he knew — pulled back the curtain for some and held up the mirror for others.
“He was a pioneering voice within the black LGBT community, but also resonated with mainstream communities, regardless of race and sexual orientation,” said Herndon Davis, a gay advocate and a diversity media consultant in Los Angeles. “Harris painted with eloquent prose and revealing accuracy the lives of African American men and the many complicated struggles they faced reconciling their sexuality and spirituality while rising above societal taboos within the black community.”
For years, he was alone in exposing the “down low,” but the phenomenon exploded into mainstream culture in 2004, a decade after Invisible Life. That year, J.L. King’s On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of Straight Black Men Who Sleep With Men hit bookstores and the author appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show.
Harris’ 1994 debut, Invisible Life, was a coming-of-age story that dealt with the then-taboo topic.
“If you were African American and you were gay, you kept your mouth shut and you went on and did what everybody else did,” Harris said in an interview last year. “You had girlfriends, you lived a life that your parents had dreamed for you.”
Harris was born in Flint, Mich., in 1955 and raised in Little Rock He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school’s first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader and president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.
Harris worked in corporate America for 13 years at IBM, Hewlett-Packard and At&T before quitting a career in sales to become an author. He was not living as an openly gay man when Invisible Life was published, and could not acknowledge the parallels between himself and the book.
“People would often ask, ‘Is this book about you?’ I didn’t want to talk about that,” he said. “I wasn’t comfortable talking about it. I would say that this is a work of fiction.”
Harris said that the courage readers got from the book empowered him to be honest about himself. He continued to tell stories dealing with similar issues, to tell black middle class readers about people they knew, but who were living secret lives.
Tilia Parks read Invisible Life as a 16-year-old and was moved by the struggle of someone so close to her own age.
“I loved the truthfulness of it,” said Parks, now 26, of Atlanta. “I’d never heard that point of view, of a guy finding himself and his sexuality at such a young age.”
Parks had looked forward to the next plot twist for the book’s main character, Raymond Tyler, who reappeared in subsequent titles has not been in Harris’ more recent works. With Harris’ death, Parks is saddened that his story may be gone.
“Loyal readers were looking for that,” Parks said. “I’m so sad. I was waiting for him to come back around and start talking about Raymond.”
Friday, July 24, 2009
The New York Daily News story below warrants the brief MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following…
Hardee’s ad rejected for asking reviewers to choose between “A-holes” and “B-holes”
By Christine Roberts, Daily News Writer
Taste-tasting between “A-holes” and “B-holes” is appetizing, right? Hardee’s thinks so.
The fast-food chain has developed commercials—featuring its new Biscuit Holes—that ask consumers to choose between regular donut holes, labeled A-holes and the company’s own version, labeled “B-holes.”
The advertisements have drawn outrage from a North Carolina company, Boddie-Noell Enterprises, which owns almost 350 Hardee’s restaurants, the News & Observer reports.
Boddie-Noell chairman, Ben Mayo Boddie, has vowed to stop running the ads in any market that the company controls. Boddie has also asked Hardee’s parent company, CKE Restaurants of California, to follow his lead.
This is not the first time that Hardee’s has used risqué advertisements to appeal to its consumers. Hardee’s has previously released ads with celebrities, such as socialite Paris Hilton and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, seductively eating the company’s burgers.
CKE spokeswoman Jenna Petroff said that although the company does not plan to drop the ads, it will only run them in specific markets after 9 p.m. She said that Hardee’s advertisements are aimed at a “target audience of young, hungry guys.”
“We do not aim to exclude or offend any other group with our efforts, but merely to appeal and amuse a very specific audience,” Petroff said.
Um, based on her comments at the end of this story, CKE spokeswoman Jenna Petroff is an unqualified A-hole and B-hole.
First, if the commercial is offending your own owner-operators, you’ve got a corporate cultural problem. Like it or not, the people running your shitty restaurants represent the brand as much as the advertising—and maybe even more than the advertising.
Second, if the ad is targeting “young, hungry guys,” why does it depict a full range of hole reviewers?
Finally, Petroff displays a high degree of ignorance and arrogance by declaring, “We do not aim to exclude or offend any other group with our efforts, but merely to appeal and amuse a very specific audience.” Yo, beeotch, if you’re running a spot on network television, you cannot avoid having other groups see the message. To brush off the probability that your offensive garbage is invading other people’s space demonstrates some serious insensitivity. The next time Hardee’s must make a public response, company officials better tell Petroff to shut her pie hole.
Don’t expect MultiCultClassics to catch the latest Sacha Baron Cohen movie, Bruno, anytime soon.
Nothing personal, really. The film will undoubtedly draw its fans, as well as many who will find it hilarious. Whatever.
MultiCultClassics opts to avoid the movie for a few reasons.
1. Wasn’t overly impressed by Borat. And Bruno appears to be the same premise in a different freak costume. Should the public look for the next Sacha Baron Cohen extravaganza to star a Special Olympian…?
2. Can’t believe anything in the flick will be as funny as the statements by Universal Pictures. The studio insists that Bruno is a satire that “uses provocative comedy to powerfully shed light on the absurdity of many kinds of intolerance and ignorance, including homophobia.”
“While any work that dares to address relevant cultural sensitivities might be misinterpreted by some or offend others, we believe the overwhelming majority of the audience will understand and appreciate the film’s inarguably positive intentions, which we’ve seen demonstrated whenever we have shown it.”
Right. Bruno is inspiring endless thought-provoking dialogues on intolerance among moviegoers. And the belief that “the audience will understand and appreciate the film’s inarguably positive intentions” was probably “demonstrated” by box office receipts. This Hollywood hype reads as if PR hacks lifted excerpts originally written for last year’s critically-acclaimed Milk. Somebody needs to shed light on the absurdity of ignorance at Universal Pictures.
3. Just ain’t buying the notion that Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic genius with keen cultural insights and sensitivity. The man’s career is not based on highlighting cultures, but rather, hijacking cultures.
4. Would prefer to waste $10 on G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Associated Press story below appeared at NPR.org. Look for this cop to land a job on Madison Avenue as a Chief Diversity Officer. Or minimally win a position on the Omnicom or Ogilvy & Mather diversity advisory committees.
Officer Who Arrested Gates Teaches Diversity Class
AP — The white police sergeant criticized by President Barack Obama for arresting black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his Massachusetts home is a police academy expert on cultural diversity.
Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class on diversity for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.
“I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy,” Fleming said on Thursday.
The course, called “Racial Profiling,” teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community “and how you don’t want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from,” Fleming said.
Obama said the Cambridge officers “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates last week when they responded to his house after a woman reported a suspected break-in.
Crowley, 42, has maintained he did nothing wrong and has refused to apologize, as Gates has demanded.
Crowley responded to Gates’ home near Harvard University last week to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded Gates show him identification. Police say Gates at first refused, flew into a rage and accused the officer of racism.
Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was dropped Tuesday.
Gates’ supporters maintain his arrest was a case of racial profiling. Officers were called to the home by a woman who said she saw “two black males with backpacks” trying to break in the front door. Gates has said he arrived home from an overseas trip and the door was jammed.
Obama was asked about the arrest of Gates, who is a friend, at the end of a nationally televised news conference on health care Wednesday night.
“I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry,” Obama said. “No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that’s just a fact.”
In radio interviews Thursday morning, Crowley maintained he followed procedure.
“I support the president of the United States 110 percent. I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts as he himself stated before he made that comment,” Crowley told WBZ-AM. “I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too.”
Crowley did not immediately respond to messages left Thursday by the AP. The Cambridge police department scheduled a news conference for later Thursday.
Gates has said he was “outraged” by the arrest. He said the white officer walked into his home without his permission and arrested him only as the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant’s name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment.
“This isn’t about me; this is about the vulnerability of black men in America,” Gates said.
He said the incident made him realize how vulnerable poor people and minorities are “to capricious forces like a rogue policeman, and this man clearly was a rogue policeman.”
The president said federal officials need to continue working with local law enforcement “to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias.”
Fellow officers, black and white, say Crowley is well-liked and respected on the force. Crowley was a campus police officer at Brandeis University in July 1993 when he administered CPR trying to save the life of former Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis. Lewis, who was black, collapsed and died during an off-season workout.
Gov. Deval Patrick, who is black, said he was troubled and upset about the incident.
Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, who also is black, has said she spoke with Gates and apologized on behalf of the city, and a statement from the city called the July 16 incident “regrettable and unfortunate.”
The mayor refused Thursday to comment on the president’s remarks.
Police supporters charge that Gates, director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, was responsible for his own arrest by overreacting.
Black students and professors at Harvard have complained for years about racial profiling by Cambridge and campus police. Harvard commissioned an independent committee last year to examine the university’s race relations after campus police confronted a young black man who was using tools to remove a bike lock. The man worked at Harvard and owned the bike.
Dumbing down the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• President Barack Obama weighed in on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by remarking, “I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge [Mass.] police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.” Hey, it’s unlikely the cops are Harvard graduates.
• A subscriber to the now-defunct Vibe Magazine has filed a class-action lawsuit, charging the publication with failing to notify or refund money to subscribers. The suit complains, “This conduct includes … continuing to sell subscriptions to Vibe Magazine to consumers without disclosing that the company was on the brink of ceasing its operations.” In lieu of a refund, maybe they could offer free Black porn videos and obscene ringers from the magazine’s last remaining advertisers.
• Kool Moe Dee is making news as part of a group of performers backing new legislation that would require radio stations to cough up performance royalties. Let’s hope the artists fare better than Vibe subscribers.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Female minority lawyers don’t stay at U.S. firms
Report | 75% bail within 5 years due to barriers
By Francine Knowles
A study has found that more than 75 percent of female minority attorneys at U.S. law firms will leave their jobs within five years due to continuing barriers to advancement. The finding is by the women’s research group Catalyst, which notes the barriers bring with them big costs.
“Those who leave often report experiencing institutional discrimination and unwanted and or unfair critical attention, which combine to create an exclusionary and challenging workplace,” the report said.
When a lawyer leaves a firm, the cost to the employer is equal to or greater than that person’s annual salary and benefits, Catalyst said, citing a previous study it did.
The report looked at the workplace experiences of minority women, compared with those of men of color and white women and men. Challenges unique to women of color include limited growth opportunities and a greater sense of “outsider status,” racial and gender stereotyping and more feelings of sexism in the workplace compared with white women; lack of access to high-profile client assignments and important client engagements, and missed opportunities for candid feedback, the report said.
The findings come as firms focus on associate satisfaction and retention and address diversity issues while facing a client base and talent pool composed of more women and minorities, Catalyst said.
The report found stark differences between groups of minority women in their perceptions of workplace culture and diversity.
Black women were more likely to believe diversity programs don’t address workplace biases and feel that partners and other supervising attorneys get insufficient training on how to work effectively with diverse cultures. They also cited a lack of access to challenging work assignments.
The report, whose sponsors included Sidley & Austin, said that to attract and retain women of color firms need to:
• Include senior leaders as active players in building and establishing inclusive workplaces.
• Raise awareness on the varying needs of different minority groups.
• Create opportunities for dialogue between firm leadership and female minority attorneys.
• Educate all attorneys, especially partners and other supervising attorneys on how to recognize bias and stereotyping of women of color.
• Monitor and track the career development of minority women and hold leaders accountable for their advancement.
The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You by Robin Fisher Roffer is a tough book to categorize because, well, it’s the only one like it.
On one fin, The Fearless Fish Out Of Water is a survival guide for 21st century creative people. Fisher Roffer opens by declaring, “Being different is good.” She inspires you to honor your authentic self—challenging you to avoid conservatism and conformity, opting instead to deliver unique, breakthrough thinking while embracing change.
Fisher Roffer makes repeated references to tapping your Higher Power, which seems to draw from classic 12-step programs. Fortunately, the author acknowledges our warp-speed world and ADD-style existences, presenting only 7 steps for success over roughly 200 easy-to-read pages. Each chapter is filled with character profiles of cutting-edge professionals, how-to advice and provocative exercises.
The spotlighted executives give The Fearless Fish Out Of Water a biographical hook. Fisher Roffer’s personal revelations add an autobiographical slant. By studying the spiritual journeys of others, readers are ultimately ignited to blaze their own trails.
Whether intentional or not, The Fearless Fish Out Of Water is actually a neo-diversity manual for today. The author recognizes, respects and reveres race, ethnicity, culture, gender, generation and all the other qualities that create healthy communities. In the end, Fisher Roffer supports inclusive environments where a broad range of perspectives, opinions and ideas are encouraged to flourish.
You can learn more via the publisher, by visiting the author’s website and reading an online excerpt. But to truly appreciate everything the book offers, make like a fearless fish and dive into it.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
From The Chicago Tribune…
Saddling the next generation with massive debt
By Dennis Byrne
The Boomers are the worst generation.
Certainly, they would never call themselves that. As the title of a 2007 book written by a Baby Boomer brazenly proclaims, they’re “The Greater Generation.” I suppose the Boomer author can be excused for his excess of self-satisfaction, because Boomers are so loaded with smugness that it’s oozing out their ears.
But surely someone who writes a book about them in another 40 or 50 years—Tom Brokaw wrote his book “The Greatest Generation” decades after that generation’s self-sacrifice preserved our freedom—will brand them as perhaps the most selfish generation in American history. That author would accurately nail them for their greedy, miserable selves because he and hundreds of millions of others will be living in the cesspool of debt that they leave behind.
Every time you take a breath, President Barack Obama (he’s on television more frequently than the weather forecast) is pushing through another costly program, rescue, bailout, giveaway—whatever you want to call it—that we can’t afford to pay for ourselves. So, in a magical example of time travel, he—we, I should say—will deliver the bill to the future, with nary a thought of how the future will pay for it.
No need here for a tedious recounting of the huge, impossible debt that we’re passing off; it has been outlined enough, but the figures seem to scare few. Our official national debt, the one you hear occasionally debated in Congress, is a sliver under $12 trillion. Sounds like a lot? Then get this: Our true national debt, when you include every cent of benefits promised to seniors, Baby Boomers and other entitled beneficiaries, amounts to nearly $62 trillion, according to the Northbrook-based Institute for Truth in Accounting. That’s $202,000 for every man, woman and child in America. Our gift to future generations is the shaft. We could talk about how paying the interest on the national debt we now have is one of the largest items in the federal budget, already draining billions from all those education, welfare and other programs so dear to the progressive agenda. But future interest payments will gobble up so many of our resources that we won’t be able to afford new cars, homes and the rest of the consumer cravings that fuel our economy. Our economy will be in shambles.
But wait, that $62 trillion doesn’t even include the other trillions for the sugarplums dancing in Obama’s head. The additional $1 trillion for health-insurance “reform.” An additional trillion or so for the third stimulus package. What else, we can only imagine.
When they write about how the Boomers are the worst generation, my guess is the target won’t be aimed at Obama so much. After all, he’s just the frontman; wind him up and off he goes to another press conference, speech or town hall meeting to tell us how we’re headed for hell if we don’t do what he says. No one can spend that much time doing public relations and devote the amount of time needed to study the consequences of everything that he wants to stuff down our throats. No, someone else is his brain and that’s his own version of Karl Rove—White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel’s cynical proclamation—“you never want a serious crisis to go to waste”—unveils the essence of this administration: its (read: Emanuel’s) lust for power. The unborn be damned. This recession is not the worst since the Great Depression, as the administration and its media acolytes keep propagandizing. It’s not even the worst since the one we survived in the early 1980s without the kind of insane spending we’re doing now.
Truth is, we’ve become so frightened of bad things happening to us that we’ll do anything, no matter how reckless, to avoid just the perception of risk. Our fear of discomfort or sacrifice is contemptible beyond description.
The Greatest Generation gave their lives so that we might enjoy our liberties and prosperity. We show our appreciation by imprisoning future Americans in a dungeon of debt from which they may never recover. Nowhere in the Obama/Emanuel blueprint is there even the slightest suggestion of how future generations will survive this mess. Not that they care, but, more important, there simply may not be a way to lift the burden. Mark this generation down as the most cowardly and irresponsible in America’s history. Mark it down as the Shameless Generation.
Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer and consultant. He blogs at ChicagoNow.com
From The New York Daily News…
Henry Louis Gates should skip the racial histrionics: Instead, teach kids to cooperate with cops
By Michael Meyers, Special to NYDailyNews.com
The most famous black professor at Harvard lives in a very safe neighborhood because, in part, residents look out for and report suspicious activities, and because cops respond quickly to reports of possible break-ins. Yet that’s not how Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, took it when cops showed up at his door after a neighbor reported two black men (Gates and his driver) seemingly pushing into a vacant residence, which turned out to be Gates’ home.
He was arrested for disorderly conduct, and the rest is now histrionic history. (The charges have since been dropped, but the incident is not going away.)
Gates was returning from a trip to China, and he couldn’t get in through a jammed front door, so he apparently went around the back, shut off an alarm and worked with his driver to get the door open.
In any neighborhood — especially one of the safest in America — that kind of behavior would be cause for suspicion and a call to the cops, no matter the color of the guys “breaking” in.
But when police showed up, the “he said, he said” has Gates indignant and, according to the cop, refusing to present himself and his ID, then complying and at some point getting loud - with Gates saying, according to the police report, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?”
Had I been the cop, I would have probably gotten suspended for saying to Gates: “No, stupid, because I need you to step outside so that I may do my job. I need to know that you are who you say you are.”
The cop’s job is not the most famous black professor at Harvard’s concern. Yet Gates’ automatic reflex was racial — that of a victim rather than a property lessee. The man with all the brains did not have the common sense of the average citizen who appreciates good and effective police work.
Calling the cops when one sees suspicious activities underway is exactly what good neighbors do. It is what a woman who works nearby did — and all indications are she acted in good faith. When cops follow up on such a report by asking suspicious persons who’ve seemingly gained entry to a vacant house to present ID, they are doing their jobs.
Nevertheless, Gates and the race industry spokesmen who’ve rushed to his defense have leaped to the fast conclusion that this was an incident of racial profiling — and that one of America’s most famed black academics was a victim of police misconduct. Choice reaction by the Rev. Al Sharpton: “I’ve heard of driving while black, and I’ve heard of shopping while black. But I’ve never heard of living in a home while black.”
Give me a break. Why isn’t it enough that the charges of disorderly conduct have been dropped against Gates? The question answers itself: The race activists need to posture that the nation has to pause and contemplate and endure yet another round of guilt around their “truth” and constant observation of racism by cops. “See,” they exclaim, “in postracial America, the black man with a Ph.D. can’t get into his own home without causing suspicion and getting arrested.”
The real truth is that Gates did not get arrested for being black or even for being suspicious or for breaking into his own home. He was arrested for disorderly conduct — for failing to do what civil rights activists and race experts always advise innocent black men, and all others who come into contact with the police, to do: cooperate.
It makes sense to repeat this message now, especially for the benefit of young black men. If the police confront you, don’t go demanding badge numbers and reading the cops the riot act. Be courteous and calm. Explain yourself and, if asked, present ID.
If there has been a constitutional violation of some kind by the cops, that can be taken care of once the police have left you alone, moving on — let’s hope — to investigate other suspicious behavior.
Meyers is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.
From The New York Times…
2008 Surge in Black Voters Nearly Erased Racial Gap
By Sam Roberts
In last year’s presidential election, younger blacks voted in greater proportions than whites for the first time and black women turned out at a higher rate than any other racial, ethnic and gender group, a census analysis released Monday confirmed.
As a result, in the election that produced the nation’s first black president, the historic gap between black and white voter participation rates over all virtually evaporated.
The Census Bureau’s survey also found striking contrasts in why people said they did not vote. More than three times as many whites as blacks said they did not like the candidates or campaign issues.
Over all, 18 percent of nonvoters said they were too busy, 15 percent said they were prevented because of an illness or disability and 13 percent each said they were not interested or did not like the candidates or issues.
Total turnout in 2008 was about the same as it was in 2004, about 64 percent of voting age citizens.
But with Barack Obama on the ballot, the makeup of the 131 million who voted last year was markedly different. While the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained roughly the same, 2 million more blacks, 2 million more Latinos and 600,000 more Asians turned out. Compared with 2004, the voting rate for black, Asian and Hispanic voters increased by about four percentage points. The rate for whites declined by one percentage point.
As a result, according to an analysis by William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, whites declined to 76 percent of all voters in 2008, from 79 percent in 2004.
Turnout varied widely by state, from a high of 75 percent in Minnesota to 52 percent in Utah.
In a number of states, including Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina, turnout among blacks surpassed 70 percent.
In 2004, according to the census, barely 60 percent of eligible blacks voted. In 2008, nearly 65 percent did (as did 66 percent of white voting-age citizens).
But one of the biggest changes was the gap between black and white participation. In 2004, the rate of black voter registration was 10 percentage points below that of whites. Last year, it narrowed to four percentage points.
Of the 206 million citizens 18 and older, 71 percent were registered to vote. Among those who were registered, 90 percent voted in 2008.
Thom File, a voting analyst with the Census Bureau, said the turnout among blacks ages 18 to 24 increased 8 percent from 2004, to 55 percent. That helped drive the overall turnout in that group to 49 percent, still lower than among older eligible voters.
Among voters 18 to 24 and 25 to 44, blacks voted at a higher rate than whites in 2008.
Like an analysis earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, the latest findings were drawn from census surveys and interviews.
“In 2008 we obviously had a historic candidacy,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew center. “That’s certainly a plausible explanation for the spike in African-American turnout. The question was, Would other minorities vote for this minority? Not only did he get a big vote, but he got a big turnout.”
Monday, July 20, 2009
The column below originally appeared at AdAge.com. Scan it quickly and read the MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following…
Clients, Let Agencies Be Part of the Hiring Process
Getting Your Shop More Involved Can Help You Win Customers
By Brian Brooker
Attract and retain customers. That’s what advertising agencies get paid to do. But since the economy took a tumble, everything changed. Today, clients should be asking more of their agencies. The key to getting more output is letting your ad agency play a bigger role in all aspects of the organization that impact the customer experience.
Let’s start with your employees.
If you want to ensure your ad agency attracts and retains customers, it starts with the front line—those people with whom your customers come in contact daily. In an instant, your employees can turn off new customers or turn away loyal ones. Allow your ad agency to be involved in every aspect of the hiring process, from targeting and acquiring new employees, nurturing them to maximize retention, and even determining when they are no longer a fit through ongoing customer evaluation.
The people you hire are your brand ambassadors. It’s critically important that they know and reflect your brand and give your customers the ultimate brand experience. Your ad agency can indoctrinate them by developing a brand kit that communicates point of difference, brand voice as well as advertising materials. They can also aid in training your employees in every facet of store experience, from customer greeting to customer check-out.
And that’s just scratching the surface. The better your employee base, the better product and service you can offer your customers. For one of our clients, we put on an internal competition that rewarded the best employees based on their ability to provide the optimal experience. The competition, which is as fun as the brand, takes place across the country. The best of the best are recognized at the annual sales convention. The employees feel a sense of pride and purpose that translates into satisfied customers.
Now, on to the customer experience.
The more your agency becomes immersed in aspects of your business beyond marketing and advertising, the more they can help you. Widen their scope. The agency should be involved in managing every contact point, from the time your customer leaves his car, sits at his laptop and turns on his cellphone, all the way to the consumption of the experience/product/service. Yes, you hired your agency to deliver a marketing plan. But consider: If you are a retail brand, why not involve your agency in designing the façade of the store, the floor plan, the product display, the furniture, the lighting and the music? It’s at the store level that the brand promise becomes real. Your ad agency can build that bridge from communications to store experience.
You can navigate a tough economy by leaving no stone unturned and by not trying to do it all by yourself. Your ad agency will welcome a chance to get immersed in marketing minutiae. It may not be as glamorous as producing a Super Bowl spot, but if they are trusted partners, they are well aware that it’s the details that count.
Why should you include them? Because your ad agency knows your customers and they know your brand. Include them because they know what your customers want and how they think. Include them because they can help you complete the sales loop in a way that keeps your customers coming back.
About The Author
Brian Brooker is chief idea officer of Barkley, Kansas City, Mo. Clients include Sonic Drive-In and Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Um, is the author of this column aware that the advertising industry is renowned for doing an abysmal job when it comes to hiring—and Madison Avenue is likely facing a class-action lawsuit for institutionalized discrimination in recruiting and retention practices?
Or better yet, forget the bias and racism infesting our business. Let’s consider the corrupt leadership, outdated business models, inability to change with the times, illegal billing and other instances of criminal bookkeeping.
This column—while perhaps typed with the best of intentions—demonstrates quite clearly the ignorance and arrogance crippling our industry. Allowing Mad Men to influence clients’ employment decisions is like inviting Minutemen to Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Should advertisers let advertising agencies be involved in the hiring process? Hell, ad executives can barely handle the advertising process.