Saturday, May 31, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
Google Admits Lack of Diversity in Newly Released Report
By Julissa Catalan
On Wednesday, Google released data that confirmed the extreme employment disparity within the tech company, not only racially but between genders as well.
While the gender data is based on Google’s 46,170 worldwide employees, the ethnicity data only documents the U.S. workers.
The workforce demographics show that 70 percent of Google employees are male.
More shocking is that 62 percent of the company’s U.S. employees are white—even though it has 19 offices around country, in racially diverse cities such as New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Detroit.
The remainder of Google’s workforce breaks down as 30 percent Asian, 4 percent mixed race, 3 percent Latino, 2 percent Black and 1 percent “other.”
The job types are broken down into four categories: overall, tech, non-tech and leadership.
Men hold 83 percent of tech positions, while 79 percent in leadership roles are also male.
The only category that appears to have gender balance is non-tech jobs—which most likely include primarily administrative and clerical positions—with men making up 52 percent and women 48 percent.
As far as ethnicity is concerned, the numbers do not fluctuate much when it comes to a position type—whites remain in the 60 percent range (except for leadership jobs, in which they make up 72 percent), and Asians stand between 23 and 34 percent, while Latinos, Blacks and mixed race are in the single digits across the board.
For years now, Google has declined to participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 survey.
When comparing its workforce-representation data with the 2014 DiversityInc Top 50 companies, we can see why:
Google: 2% Black, 3% Latino, 30% Asian, 30% women
2014 Top 50: 11.9% Black, 9.8% Latino, 9.8% Asian, 46.2% women
Prior to releasing this 2014 EEO-1 report, Google has gone to great lengths to keep its data a secret.
In 2010, Mike Swift of the San Jose Mercury News attempted to get Silicon Valley’s largest companies to disclose their diversity figures. Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Oracle and Applied Materials refused to release their EEO-1 data, going so far as to obtain a court-ordered block.
Redskins ask Twitter followers to tweet #RedskinsPride at Sen. Reid, whose office calls social media stunt a failure
Seeking to settle the debate over whether the name is racist or offensive, the team sought support on social media. What it did, according to Reid’s office, is make the case for changing the name even more clear-cut.
By Jason Rubinstein | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Washington politicians and Washington football executives can’t agree on whether or not the name Redskins is racist.
And for once it seems the politicians are leading in the public opinion polls.
The Redskins — in response to a letter sent to the NFL and signed by half of the U.S. Senate urging commissioner Roger Goodell to support the movement to change the name — took to Twitter Thursday to try to settle the debate. They were essentially booed off the platform.
The team asked its 305,000-plus followers to “Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you.”
While Sen. Harry Reid was, predictably, hit with remarks about sorting out the government’s issues before wading into the sports arena, his office maintains that the team’s efforts to win over the public on the controversial name blew up in their face.
“From our perspective, what we saw was just overwhelming opposition. It’s really made our day,” Faiz Shakir, Reid’s digital director, told the Washington Post.
“It has failed miserably,” he told Deadspin.
All this comes a week after the letter — co-signed by Senate Majority Leader Reid, a leading voice in calling for the team to change it’s name — from the politicos landed on Goodell’s desk. Redskins president Bruce Allen responded to the letter, with Allen defending the use of the name as “respectful.”
Allen’s letter was then tweeted out by the Redskins and received public support from current players including Ryan Kerrigan, Desean Jackson, Alfred Morris, Brian Orakpo and Pierre Garcon.
And while that player support may be reassuring, one former Redskins player doesn’t share the same sentiment and is perhaps the beginning to an outpouring of more support against the team name.
Ex-Redskins player Mark Schlereth — who won Super Bowl XXVI with the Washington — told ABC’s “This Week” that the name’s gotta go.
“It is time to change the name,” Schlereth said, becoming the highest-profile former player to speak out against the nickname. “There’s no question, if you research the history of that name, it’s a pejorative term and it needs to change.
“I mean, you would ever go into a conference of Native American people and walk up in front of them and refer to them as Redskins. It is a derogatory term, that’s its origins, and it is time to be a leader, from the standpoint of the NFL.
“High schools across America have changed their names. The NCAA has implemented policy to change those names. Why has the NFL shuffled its feet on this? I don’t know, but it’s time to change.”
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou, Lyrical Witness of the Jim Crow South, Dies at 86
By Margalit Fox
Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet whose landmark book of 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — which describes in lyrical, unsparing prose her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 86 and lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Her death was confirmed by her longtime literary agent, Helen Brann. No immediate cause of death had been determined, but Ms. Brann said Ms. Angelou had been in frail health for some time and had had heart problems.
As well known as she was for her memoirs, which eventually filled six volumes, Ms. Angelou very likely received her widest exposure on a chilly January day in 1993, when she delivered the inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, who, like Ms. Angelou, had grown up poor in rural Arkansas.
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.
Long before that day, as she recounted in “Caged Bird” and its five sequels, she had already been a dancer, calypso singer, streetcar conductor, single mother, magazine editor in Cairo, administrative assistant in Ghana, official of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and friend or associate of some of the most eminent black Americans of the mid-20th century, including James Baldwin, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Afterward (her six-volume memoir takes her only to the age of 40), Ms. Angelou (pronounced AHN-zhe-lo) was a Tony-nominated stage actress; college professor (she was for many years the Reynolds professor of American studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem); ubiquitous presence on the lecture circuit; frequent guest on television shows, from “Oprah” to “Sesame Street”; and subject of a string of scholarly studies.
In February 2011, President Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Throughout her writing, Ms. Angelou explored the concepts of personal identity and resilience through the multifaceted lens of race, sex, family, community and the collective past. As a whole, her work offered a cleareyed examination of the ways in which the socially marginalizing forces of racism and sexism played out at the level of the individual.
“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat,” Ms. Angelou wrote in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
Hallmarks of Ms. Angelou’s prose style included a directness of voice that recalls African-American oral tradition and gives her work the quality of testimony. She was also intimately concerned with sensation, describing the world around her — be it Arkansas, San Francisco or the foreign cities in which she lived — with palpable feeling for its sights, sounds and smells.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” published when Ms. Angelou was in her early 40s, spans only her first 17 years. But what powerfully formative years they were.
Marguerite Ann Johnson was born in St. Louis on April 4, 1928. (For years after Dr. King’s assassination, on April 4, 1968, Ms. Angelou did not celebrate her birthday.) Her dashing, defeated father, Bailey Johnson Sr., a Navy dietitian, “was a lonely person, searching relentlessly in bottles, under women’s skirts, in church work and lofty job titles for his ‘personal niche,’ lost before birth and unrecovered since,” Ms. Angelou wrote. “How maddening it was to have been born in a cotton field with aspirations of grandeur.”
Her beautiful, volatile mother, Vivian Baxter, was variously a nurse, hotel owner and card dealer. As a girl, Ms. Angelou was known as Rita, Ritie or Maya, her older brother’s childhood nickname for her.
After her parents’ marriage ended, 3-year-old Maya was sent with her 4-year-old brother, Bailey, to live with their father’s mother in the tiny town of Stamps, Ark., which, she later wrote, “with its dust and hate and narrowness was as South as it was possible to get.”
Their grandmother, Annie Henderson, owned a general store “in the heart of the Negro area,” Ms. Angelou wrote. An upright woman known as Momma, “with her solid air packed around her like cotton,” she is a warm, stabilizing presence throughout “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
The children returned periodically to St. Louis to live with their mother. On one such occasion, when Maya was 7 or 8 (her age varies slightly across her memoirs, which employ the techniques of fiction to recount actual events), she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.
She told her brother, who alerted the family, and the man was tried and convicted. Before he could begin serving his sentence, he was murdered — probably, Ms. Angelou wrote, by her uncles.
Believing that her words had brought about the death, Maya did not speak for the next five years. Her love of literature, as she later wrote, helped restore language to her.
As a teenager, now living with her mother in San Francisco, she studied dance and drama at the California Labor School and became the first black woman to work as a streetcar conductor there. At 16, after a casual liaison with a neighborhood youth, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. There the first book ends.
Reviewing “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called it “a carefully wrought, simultaneously touching and comic memoir.”
The book — its title is a line from “Sympathy,” by the African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar — became a best seller, confounding the pervasive stereotype that black women’s lives were unworthy of memoir.
The next five volumes of Ms. Angelou’s memoir, all, like the first, originally published by Random House, were “Gather Together in My Name” (1974), “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” (1976), “The Heart of a Woman” (1981), “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes” (1986) and “A Song Flung Up to Heaven” (2002).
Together they describe her struggles to support her son through a series of odd jobs. “Determined to raise him, I had worked as a shake dancer in nightclubs, fry cook in hamburger joints, dinner cook in a Creole restaurant and once had a job in a mechanic’s shop, taking paint off cars with my hands,” she wrote in “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas.” Elsewhere, she describes her brief unsuccessful stint as a prostitute and brief successful one as a madam.
Ms. Angelou goes on to recount her marriage to a Greek sailor, Tosh Angelos. (Throughout her life, she was circumspect about the number of times she was married — it appears to have been at least three — for fear, she said, of appearing frivolous.)
After the marriage dissolved, she embarked on a career as a calypso dancer and singer under the name Maya Angelou, a variant of her married name. A striking stage presence — she was six feet tall — she occasionally partnered in San Francisco with Alvin Ailey in a nightclub dance act known as Al and Rita.
She was cast in the Truman Capote-Harold Arlen musical “House of Flowers,” which opened on Broadway in 1954. But she chose instead to tour the world as a featured dancer in a production of “Porgy and Bess” by the Everyman Opera Company, a black ensemble.
Ms. Angelou later settled in New York, where she became active in the Harlem Writers Guild (she hoped to be a poet and playwright), sang at the Apollo and eventually succeeded Bayard Rustin as the coordinator of the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization that he, Dr. King and others had founded.
In the early 1960s, Ms. Angelou became romantically involved with Vusumzi L. Make, a South African civil rights activist. She moved with him to Cairo, where she became the associate editor of a magazine, The Arab Observer. After leaving Mr. Make — she found him paternalistic and controlling, she later wrote — she moved to Accra, Ghana, where she was an administrative assistant at the University of Ghana.
On returning to New York, Ms. Angelou helped Malcolm X set up the Organization of Afro-American Unity, established in 1964. The group dissolved after his assassination the next year.
In 1973, Ms. Angelou appeared on Broadway in “Look Away,” a two-character play about Mary Todd Lincoln (played by Geraldine Page) and her seamstress. Though the play closed after one performance, Ms. Angelou was nominated for a Tony Award. On the screen, she portrayed Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in the 1977 television mini-series “Roots” and appeared in several feature films, including “How to Make an American Quilt” (1995).
Ms. Angelou’s marriage in the 1970s to Paul du Feu, who had previously been wed to the feminist writer Germaine Greer, ended in divorce.
Over time, some critics expressed reservations about Ms. Angelou’s prose, calling it facile and solipsistic. Her importance as a literary, cultural and historical figure was amply borne out, however, by the many laurels she received, including a slew of honorary doctorates.
Her other books include the volumes of poetry “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie” (1971), “Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well” (1975); “And Still I Rise” (1978) and “Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?” (1983).
She released an album of songs, “Miss Calypso,” in 1957.
But she remained best known for her memoirs, a striking fact in that she had never set out to be a memoirist. Near the end of “A Song Flung Up to Heaven,” Ms. Angelou recalls her response when Robert Loomis, who would become her longtime editor at Random House, first asked her to write an autobiography.
She demurred at first, still planning to be a playwright and poet. Cannily, Mr. Loomis called her again.
“You may be right not to attempt autobiography, because it is nearly impossible to write autobiography as literature,” he said. “Almost impossible.”
“I’ll start tomorrow,” Ms. Angelou replied.
Dave Itzkoff contributed reporting.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The Sprint Framily underscores why the telecommunications company is in big trouble. And the Grandpa character embodies the cultural cluelessness of Sprint and its agencies. When was the last time this brand presented decent—or even mediocre—advertising? In 2012, MultiCultClassics predicted the failure of Team Sprint—and the Leo Burnett-Digitas coalition did not disappoint on the forecast. Yet the new shop’s Sprint Framily campaign is arguably worse than the shit shat out by all predecessors. It almost makes a person wish for the return of Dan Hesse.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Adweek reported IPG CEO Michael Roth defended his $11.7 million compensation to shareholders, insisting the amount is equal to or less than what his peers earn. Additionally, Roth pointed to the company’s share price as an example of his effective leadership. The Adweek story didn’t indicate if Roth discussed the work created by IPG agencies. Heaven forbid the CEO of an advertising holding company might be accountable for the advertising produced within the network. Roth also didn’t take credit for making good on former Draftfcb President and CEO Laurence Boschetto’s proclamation “that by 2014 [Draftfcb] will be an organization that no longer uses the term ‘diversity and inclusion.’” Granted, Roth technically accomplished the feat by dumping Boschetto and permitting the agency to change its name to FCB; that is, Draftfcb is an organization that no longer uses the term “diversity and inclusion” because it is no longer an organization at all. Why, it’s only a matter of time before Roth is crowned a Pioneer of Diversity.
IPG CEO Michael Roth Defends His Pay
Says it’s comparable or less than what competitors make
By Andrew McMains
Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth today defended his compensation as mid-tier compared to his competitors.
Roth, speaking at IPG’s annual shareholder meeting in New York, received $11.7 million in salary, stock, stock options, incentives and benefits last year. A shareholder questioned if that was excessive, given that the company failed to reach its own operating margin target of at least 10 percent. IPG ended the year with a margin of 9.3 percent.
Roth replied that the margin goal was just one of several factors that determined his compensation. Others include the company’s share price, which rose more than 60 percent last year to close at $17.70 on Dec. 31.
What’s more, IPG’s board conducts a “competitive analysis of where our compensation fared versus our competitive set. And once again, we’re on the middle to below competitive compensation overall, including my compensation,” Roth said. “Most of my compensation—a significant part of it—is based on the performance of our shares and the performance of our financial vectors. And, as you can see, we continue to outperform our competitors in the marketplace.”
That said, Roth acknowledged missing the margin goal, saying, “We have some work to do in terms of expanding our margin.” This year’s target is 10.3 percent.
To Roth’s point on his own pay, he earned less than other holding company CEOs last year. For example, WPP Group’s Martin Sorrell and Omnicom Group’s John Wren received total compensation of about $50 million and $18 million, respectively. WPP and Omnicom are much bigger companies, however, with total revenue of $18.5 billion and $14.5 billion, respectively, last year, compared to IPG’s $7.1 billion.
The same IPG shareholder also questioned the compensation of board members, which last year ranged from $251,000 for Dawn Hudson to more than $296,000 for David Thomas, according to IPG’s proxy statement. Again, though, Roth, defended the pay level as within the range of competitors and not the highest in the group.
“We’re very comfortable with the level of compensation for our directors,” Roth said simply.
Not withstanding the questions about pay, IPG shareholders represented at the meeting reelected the company’s nine directors and overwhelmingly approved compensation, incentive and performance plans for its top executives.
For example, nearly 98 percent of the voting stockholders authorized the executive compensation plan, and almost 97 percent approved the executive performance plan. Shareholders also reappointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as the IPG’s accounting firm for another year.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Redskins President Bruce Allen tells Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his NFL team’s nickname is ‘respectful’ toward Native Americans
On Thursday, half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the Washington club’s name, saying it is a racist slur and it is time to replace it. The franchise responded by releasing a letter written by Redskins President Bruce Allen.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — Redskins President Bruce Allen said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday that the football team’s nickname is “respectful” toward Native Americans.
On Thursday, half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the Washington club’s name, saying it is a racist slur and it is time to replace it.
The franchise responded by releasing Allen’s letter.
“Our use of ‘Redskins’ as the name of our football team for more than 80 years has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans,” he wrote.
The letter references research that “the term Redskins originated as a Native American expression of solidarity.” It notes that the team’s logo was designed by Native American leaders and cites surveys that Native Americans and Americans as a whole support the name.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from President Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
The New York Times reported the Association of National Advertisers is acquiring the Brand Activation Association. Hopefully, there will less initial hoopla than the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger. Perhaps ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice will post another compelling video explaining the new partnership. Looking forward to learning how the Brand Activation Association will bring more firepower to the Army to Advance Industry Diversity.
One Venerable Ad Trade Association Is Acquiring Another
By Stuart Elliott
Two marketing trade associations, each of them more than a century old, are joining forces.
The Association of National Advertisers in New York, founded in 1910, has agreed to acquire the Brand Activation Association, also based in New York and founded in 1911. The agreement is being announced on Thursday morning by both associations.
The advertisers association represents, by its own count, more than 600 companies that sell 10,000 brands and spend an estimated $250 billion each year on marketing. The Brand Activation Association — known until last year as the Promotion Marketing Association — represents firms involved in areas like promotional marketing, shopper marketing, relationship marketing and old-school “reminder” marketing in the form of giveaway items: pens, calendars, coffee mugs, baseball caps and the like.
The boards of both associations have unanimously approved the acquisition plan, which would take effect July 1. Members of both organizations are expected to formally ratify the acquisition at their meetings next month.
The Brand Activation Association is to become an operating division of the advertisers association and retain its name. Bonnie Carlson, its president and chief executive, will be president of the division.
“I think we’re breaking some new ground,” Ms. Carlson said in a phone interview on Wednesday, referring to the idea of one trade association absorbing another.
“It’s about clout,” she said of the combination, because her organization will be “sharing more resources” by joining with the advertisers association.
And “it’s about content,” Ms. Carlson said, in that the advertisers association will gain additional conferences and events to add to its offerings to members. For example, the B.A.A.'s annual law conference will continue, she added, as will the annual presentation of honors called the Reggie Awards.
Robert D. Liodice, president and chief executive of the advertisers association, said: “In trying to be a full-service association for our members, we’re always looking to see how we can add to our portfolio, especially in the content area. Like any company, there are two ways: Build your own, or acquire.”
Because two associations are involved rather than, say, two agencies, two cable companies or two soup makers, no money is changing hands, Mr. Liodice said. “It’s a merging of operations,” he added, “and we end up being the parent company.”
This may be the first time the advertisers association has made an acquisition, Mr. Liodice said, noting that in the past the organization has done the opposite, as when it spun off a committee in 1936 that became the independent Advertising Research Foundation.
There is overlap between members of both associations, Mr. Liodice and Ms. Carlson said. She listed marketers that belong to both, like Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.
(Mr. Liodice said that other members of the B.A.A. like agencies and service providers would receive some kind of associate membership in his organization rather than full membership because his organization limits membership to advertisers.)
Mr. Liodice and Ms. Carlson said they first began discussing joining forces at a lunch in September.
Might the coming together of two industry associations augur more mash-ups? There are a number of organizations that the denizens of Madison Avenue can join.
“A lot of our members feel there’s such a proliferation,” Ms. Carlson said, and say it could “help them if there were fewer, bigger ones.”
The coming-together of the two associations is, coincidentally, being announced after the recent unraveling of a merger between two giant agency holding groups.
Friday, May 23, 2014
‘More alpha females needed’ as advertising rated worst sector for women
By Louise Ridley
Advertising and media has been rated the worst sector for giving women the chance to progress at work, according to research from the career coaching company Talking Talent.
The industry was rated bottom, according to the survey of 1,000 women, 35 of which worked in advertising and media.
Advertising and media was also rated joint worst with financial services for workplace prejudice. Half of the women (51 per cent) from the industry said they had experienced discrimination, most often from junior male colleagues.
The sector also scored poorly for flexibility and work/life balance, in the research, which looked at industries including engineering, law, accountancy and government.
Despite this, 83 per cent of the respondents in the sector said their employer was supportive of women in general.
Sue Unerman, the chief strategy officer of Mediacom UK, who is writing a book about women and work, noted that while the sample size for the ad industry in the research was small, it “continues to highlight the issue, which frankly statistically is not good enough”.
She said there was confusion around whether gender equality exists in advertising and media.
Unerman said: “Many people I’ve spoken to don’t think that there has been much real progress towards gender equality in senior roles for women, that it is still essentially an alpha men club.
“Others disagree, and point to the fact that we work in a meritocracy, and if there aren’t senior women around it is because they haven’t made it to the top.”
Unerman pointed out that MediaCom UK has many women in senior roles, so it was “entirely normal to have gender equality” at the agency.
She said: “Yet time and time again I go to conferences, or sit on judging panels, where most (or all) of the speakers or attendees are men. We’ll have board-to-board meetings with media owners. We’ll turn up with loads of women. They’ll turn up with all men.
“Businesses benefit from a diverse team of leaders. A few more alpha females in the mix will deliver different points of view at a senior level and will probably drive competitive advantage.
“Great leaders find the people (at least half of whom must be women) that will add qualities to the management mix and create change.”
The research supported calls for flexible working options, as well as placing more women in senior positions in all sectors but found there was minimal support for gender-based management quotas, which only 7 per cent of all the women surveyed supported.
Chris Parke, the chief executive of Talking Talent, said: “If employers fail to introduce measures to support women particularly through maternity, employers will miss out on a huge section of their top talent — something they can ill-afford to do in today’s competitive economy.”
Sam Greenlee, author of ‘Spook Who Sat By the Door,’ dead at 83
By Nina Metz
Even into his so-called golden years, the writer Sam Greenlee was outspoken about the curious fate of his 1973 film “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” A Chicago native, Greenlee, 83, died from natural causes early Monday morning at his home.
“The Spook Who Sat by the Door” was Greenlee’s one feature film (he was writer and producer), adapted from his 1969 novel of the same name, which was an underground classic inspired, in part, by Greenlee’s own experience as the rare black man working for the Foreign Service from the late 1950s through the mid-‘60s, stationed in Iraq, Pakistan and Greece before returning to Chicago.
Both the book and the film center on a black activist and intelligence man named Dan Freeman (played by Lawrence Cook) who quits the agency, moves back to Chicago and kickstarts an armed revolution steeped in black nationalism and groovy dialogue.
“It is such a mixture of passion, humor, hindsight, prophecy, prejudice and reaction,” New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote upon its release, “that the fact that it’s not a very well-made movie, and is seldom convincing as melodrama, is almost beside the point.” (The film was directed by Ivan Dixon, best known for his role on “Hogan’s Heroes.”)
But something strange happened shortly after the film opened in theaters. It disappeared for reasons that remain unclear. The prints literally vanished. Greenlee himself believed movie theater owners were visited by members of the FBI and were pressured to pull the film from their screens. It’s not an implausible theory, considering the story’s militant content, but one that has never been proven. That didn’t stop Greenlee from speaking out, anyway.
Charming and graced with a wily, indefatigable intellect, Greenlee sat for many interviews in his later years, including one for the documentary “Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat By the Door,” which chronicled the story of the film’s making and subsequent disappearance. The film screened in Chicago in 2010 as part of the Black Harvest film festival at the Siskel Film Center.
“He was hard-nosed and didn’t take anything from anybody,” said Lowell Thompson, the Chicago-based artist and writer who spent many nights socializing with Greenlee in recent years. “We used to have arty parties and he’d come and hang out and argue.” Greenlee, who was also poet, was an integral member of his circle of writer and artist friends. According to Thompson, Greenlee’s health began to deteriorate about two years ago, though he was private about these matters.
He was less tight-lipped on just about everything else. Numerous video interviews of Greenlee abound on YouTube, including one in which he is unsparing in his opinion of contemporary black cinema: “If we’re gonna be outsiders, man, (let’s) take advantage of being outsiders, OK? If you want to be a rich ‘ho, then go to Hollywood. If you want to say something true about black people, then do what we did: Raise the money from the black community and shoot what you want.”
Said Thompson when he heard of Greenlee’s death on Monday, “The first thing I wrote was: ‘Sam was no sham.’ He was right there in your face, but usually he had really good reasons and facts to back up his opinions.”
Greenlee, he said, “spoke in this informal but authoritative way. He was not putting on airs. But he also knew how to communicate with people so they didn’t feel uncomfortable or intimidated.”
Raised in Woodlawn (the same neighborhood where he lived in recent years), his mother was a Regalette, according to Thompson, referring to the chorus dancers at the Regal Theater in Bronzeville. Greenlee attended Englewood High School in the same time period as “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright Lorraine Hansberry; both were born in 1930. Greenlee attended the University of Wisconsin, where he ran track, and the University of Chicago. “I went to two white, brainwashing institutions,” he later told the Chicago Reader. “But I’m the black dog that didn’t fall for Pavlov’s scam.”
“He often said and did some outrageous things,” said Stan West, a writer and filmmaker who teaches on culture, race and media at Columbia College, “sometimes for shock value, sometimes because he believed them, and sometimes because of his various illnesses. Sam was one of the first African-Americans I met who was in the U.S. foreign service. He actually was a ‘a spook who sat by the door.’”
Pemon Rami, who is director of educational services and public programs at the DuSable Museum of African American History, met Greenlee in the early 1970s and helped cast “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” with Chicago actors. Most of the film was shot in Gary, Ind., however — due to pushback from Mayor Richard J. Daley. (The production did manage to grab a few shots, sans permit, near the “L” at 63rd and Cottage Grove.)
David (pronounced “Daveed”) Lemieux was among the Chicagoans cast in the film, based on a chance encounter. “When I was 16 years old I was a busboy at Chances R in Hyde Park,” he said. “I was already an activist and I had read ‘The Spook Who Sat by the Door,’ so of course I recognized him when he came in.
“I told him there was a character in the book that I related to, a very light-skinned character who was portrayed not as the tragic mulatto but as one of the brothers. And I said I really appreciated him writing that. And he told me if he ever made a movie out of the book, he would put me in it.”
Lemieux was 19 by the time the film was made. Though not an actor (by his own admission) his performance makes an impact. He plays Pretty Willie, a man who might be mistaken for white or Latino based on looks alone, and Greenlee gave him searing dialogue on this very topic.
“I am not passing,” he says. “I am black, do you hear me, man? Do you understand? … I was born black, I live black and I’m gonna die probably because I’m black.”
Greenlee, Lemieux said, “was the real deal.”
Rami echoed these sentiments, calling Greenlee “tough, committed, creative and revolutionary.” Greenlee had apparently finished work on his autobiography, which Rami hopes will be published.
“One of Sam’s statements,” Rami said, “and it was the (outgoing) message on his voicemail, was that a free black mind is a weapon of mass destruction. I always found that to be interesting.”
A memorial for Greenlee will be held at the Dusable Museum June 6.
Advertising Age reported on the latest initiative to come from BBDO’s Diversity Council: a Marvel comic book hyping the importance of inclusion. Is BBDO’s Diversity Council part of the Omnicom Diversity Development Advisory Committee? Gee, these agencies are creating a veritable Justice League of Delegating Diversity. The comic book, not surprisingly, fails to mention the real villains on Madison Avenue still perpetuating exclusivity. Rather, it’s a partnership between BBDO and New York’s Police Athletic League designed to aim a positive message towards kids. Why does the advertising industry consistently ignore addressing its own ranks regarding diversity, opting to target children instead? Wonder what the youngsters would think upon discovering the comic book creators—namely, the majority of staffers at BBDO—more closely resemble Mad Men versus X-Men.
BBDO Teams with Marvel on New Avengers Comic Book
‘Heroes Welcome’ Is Latest in Agency’s Diversity Initiatives
By Ann-Christine Diaz
Diversity can be a tough issue to tackle—but it helps when you have The Avengers to back you up. That’s the thinking behind a partnership between BBDO and Marvel to create a custom comic book “Avengers: Heroes Welcome.”
The title is an initiative of BBDO’s Diversity Council, and ties into an education and distribution program aimed at kids through New York’s Police Athletic League and online. It features the young hero Nova, who questions the notion of heroes in a world plagued by strife and approaches more seasoned heroes like Iron Man, Thor, She-Hulk and others for advice.
The comic book, which coincides with Marvel’s 75th anniversary, was actually years in the making and was one of the first ideas to come out of BBDO’s Diversity Council when it was formed in 2006 to promote an ethos of acceptance across the agency’s culture, business practices and beyond. “It’s not a black, white or an age thing,” said BBDO New York President-CEO John Osborn, who founded the council. “It’s totally about acceptance and inclusion and it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for our business.”
Shifts in the economy put the project “on the back burner, but we kept focus and took whatever steps we could toward an eventual completion,” said JD Michaels, senior VP-director of tactile production and creative engineering as well as a founding member of the council. “We didn’t give up on it.”
Mr. Michaels has helped steer the project throughout. “I’m African American, and when I was a kid, many of the stories I read about Marvel Heroes helped me,” he said. “They were regular people but had super powers and went through all the things I went through.”
The comic book that finally resulted is an evolution of a tale written eight years ago—one of four the agency originally thought up around various Marvel heroes.
“The relevance of a comic book that talked to kids about gender and race before the Obama Presidency was one world,” Mr. Michaels said. “Today’s world is a little different. Culture has shifted and we wanted to make sure this effort was less defensive and more inspirational.”
The popularity of certain Marvel characters has also skyrocketed thanks to Hollywood in the time since the original idea, so Marvel built out the new cast to pull in certain heavyweights alongside characters reflecting some diversity, such as She-Hulk and African American hero Power Man.
Although this was a custom title, Marvel tapped one of its top writers, Brian Michael Bendis, an Avengers and X-Men vet who also co-created “Ultimate Spider Man,” as well as one of its most popular artists, Mark Brooks, who has illustrated for X-Men, Avengers and Spider Man titles.
The comic tries not to come off as preachy, according to Marvel Custom Solutions Creative Director Bill Rosemann said. “What I’ve always appreciated about our comics is that they don’t hit you over the head with the message,” he said. “One strength of the story is its subtle message, with diversity baked in. We don’t have to hit you over the head with it.”
For now, BBDO and Marvel have no plans to release a follow-up, but if the comic book sparks more conversation, “this may be the first step in something that may have a longer shelf life,” said Mr. Osborn.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Group of 50 senators calls on Washington Redskins to change team name
Half the U.S. Senate wrote letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday, saying the team name is a racist slur and that it is time to replace it
By Dan Friedman | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
WASHINGTON — Half the U.S. Senate wrote the National Football League commissioner Tuesday, urging him to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins.
“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the lawmakers told Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The letter-writers included Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, where the team plays.
In their letters, the lawmakers followed the practice, adopted by some newspapers, of refusing to use the team’s name.
“The Washington, D.C. football team is on the wrong side of history,” the senators wrote. “What message does it send to punish slurs against African Americans while endorsing slurs against Native Americans?
They urged the NFL to follow the example of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who reacted swiftly to racially offensive comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling by banning him for life.
A “national conversation on race” created by Sterling’s remarks “is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises,” they said.
The letters also pointed out that every national tribal organization in the U.S., representing two million Native American people, has now formally requested the name change.
“Yet every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C. football team mocks their culture,” the senators wrote.
In a prepared statement, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy politely rejected the request.
The league “has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field,” McCarthy said.
“The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The name is not used by the team or the N.F.L. in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, has vowed to keep the team’s name, part of a brand he has spent millions of dollars to promote.
“We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue,” Snyder said last month. “The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it’s time that people focus on reality.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat, organized the letter-writing campaign.
Forty-nine of the Democratic senators wrote identical letters to Goodell, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wrote his own letter.
The five Democrats who did not join the effort all represent states with large numbers of conservative voters: Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
Cantwell did not ask Republican senators to take part in the campaign.
President Obama said last October that if he owned the Redskins, he would consider changing the team’s name.
Advertising Age published the latest weekly installment of Throwback Thursday, spotlighting advertising-related news from 1969. Here’s a historical item worth noting:
Chiat/Day Effort to Combat Racism Includes Booklet Dashing Rumors
Issues of racial intolerance have been another recurring theme throughout this season, and this piece looks at Chiat/Day co-founder Jay Chiat’s attempt to fight racism with a campaign for the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations. It included a pamphlet that highlighted rumor vs. reality when it came to people’s perceptions of African Americans and posters and bumper stickers with copy such as “Is Your Neighborhood All White or All American?”
Nice. In 1969, Chiat\Day feigned interest in battling L.A. racism. Over 45 years later, the advertising industry—featuring diversity-averse agencies like Chiat\Day—remains a separate-yet-unequal mess. Plus, Los Angeles is still reeling from the racist rant of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Oh, how times have changed. The classic headline could be rewritten for relevance today: Is Your Ad Agency All White Or All American? Throwback Thursday should be renamed Throw-Up Thursday.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
More Hispanics Declaring Themselves White
By Nate Cohn
Hispanics are often described as driving up the nonwhite share of the population. But a new study of census forms finds that more Hispanics are identifying as white.
An estimated net 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” as the census form puts it, changed their race from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, according to research presented at an annual meeting of the Population Association of America and reported by Pew Research.
The researchers, who have not yet published their findings, compared individual census forms from the 2000 and 2010 censuses. They found that millions of Americans answered the census questions about race and ethnicity differently in 2000 and 2010. The largest shifts were among Americans of Hispanic origin, who are the nation’s fastest growing ethnic group by total numbers.
Race is an immutable characteristic for many white, black and Asian-Americans. It is less clear for Americans of Hispanic origin. The census form asks two questions about race and ethnicity: one about whether individuals are of Hispanic or Latino origin, and another about race. “Hispanics” do not constitute a race, according to the census, and so 37 percent of Hispanics, presumably dissatisfied with options like “white” or “black,” selected “some other race.”
The researchers found that 2.5 million Americans of Hispanic origin, or approximately 7 percent of the 35 million Americans of Hispanic origin in 2000, changed their race from “some other race” in 2000 to “white” in 2010. An additional 1.3 million people switched in the other direction. A noteworthy but unspecified share of the change came from children who weren’t old enough to fill out a form in 2000, but chose for themselves in 2010.
The data provide new evidence consistent with the theory that Hispanics may assimilate as white Americans, like the Italians or Irish, who were not universally considered to be white. It is particularly significant that the shift toward white identification withstood a decade of debate over immigration and the country’s exploding Hispanic population, which might have been expected to inculcate or reinforce a sense of Hispanic identity, or draw attention to divisions that remain between Hispanics and non-Hispanic white Americans. Research suggests that Hispanics who have experienced discrimination are less likely to identify as white.
The data also call into question whether America is destined to become a so-called minority-majority nation, where whites represent a minority of the nation’s population. Those projections assume that Hispanics aren’t white, but if Hispanics ultimately identify as white Americans, then whites will remain the majority for the foreseeable future.
White identification is not necessarily a sign that Hispanics consider themselves white. Many or even most might identify their race as “Hispanic” if it were an explicit option. But white identification may still be an indicator of assimilation. White identifiers are likelier to be second- and third-generation Hispanics than foreign-born and noncitizen Hispanics. They also have higher levels of education and income. The researchers’ data did not show the country of origin of the families of those people who shifted their identification.
The results are a strong sign that fears of a unique “Hispanic challenge,” where Hispanics immigrants might remain as a permanent Spanish-speaking underclass, are overblown.
In that regard, the census numbers are not new: There is mounting evidence that Hispanics are succeeding in American society at a pace similar to that of prior waves of European immigrants.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Advertising Age published a fluff piece on the super cool ways that agencies recruit interns. For example, Digitas asks candidates, “If you were a mobile app, which would you be and why?” Actually, only a mobile ass would want to work for Digitas, even for just the summer. More disturbing is the photo (see above) featuring interns from Leo Burnett. It’s a little difficult to say with certainty, but the group appears to lack diversity. Then again, Leo Burnett lacks diversity too. The Ad Age story essentially states that agencies reel in young workers from a static and familiar pool of sources, which is basically how veterans are selected as well. And it’s a safe bet that the static and familiar pool of sources is supplemented with nepotism and cronyism; i.e., the children of agency leaders and clients receive preferential hiring privileges. Meanwhile, HR wonks and Chief Diversity Officers half-heartedly scout minorities from inner-city high schools and preschools.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Wickham: Holder cites true threat to civil rights
By DeWayne Wickham
Attorney general’s commencement speech focuses not on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling but court conservatives.
BALTIMORE — The thing to remember about the commencement address Attorney General Eric Holder gave Saturday is not that he wrote off the racist musing of people such as Donald Sterling and Robert Copeland. As deplorable as they were, he correctly said, they “are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged” against far greater threats to the civil rights of this nation’s minorities.
Sterling is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team who was caught on an audio recording speaking disparagingly of blacks. Copeland was the Wolfeboro, N.H., police commissioner who resigned Monday after he was overheard in a restaurant referring to President Obama as “that f------ n-----.” As bigots go, both men were forged from the same mold that produces the rank and file Klansman.
But Holder didn’t come to this city, the birthplace of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education to call out the foot soldiers of this nation’s still deeply entrenched resistance to civil rights. He didn’t have to travel up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and take the stage of Morgan State University’s commencement ceremony to do that, no matter how many news organizations put that tag on his speech.
Instead, Holder — the first black to hold the job as the nation’s top law enforcement officer — courageously named Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as a greater threat to the cause of civil rights than “misguided words that we can reject out of hand.”
Coming from a sitting attorney general, Holder’s sharp rebuke of Roberts — and the conservative majority that he leads — is unprecedented. But it is not unwarranted.
He “has argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether,” Holder said of the chief justice. “This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted.”
Then Holder craftily — and maybe too subtlely for some reviewers — invoked the words and judicial logic of one of the Supreme Court’s liberal justices to counter Roberts’ myopia.
As “Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote recently in an insightful dissent in the Michigan college admission case, we must not ‘wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. … The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.’”
Indeed. Holder, of course, knows that. But by using the platform of a university commencement speech to focus attention on “policies that too easily escape” the strict scrutiny courts give to openly discriminatory laws “because they have the appearance of being race-neutral,” Holder is calling out the conservatives on the court.
Can I get an “amen” here?
Such biting criticism will not endear the attorney general to the conservative legion that is the Praetorian Guard of Roberts’ “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” school of racial justice. But there are times when a battle for that which is right must be fought in the court of public opinion.
Holder understands that the victory he seeks in the fight for racial justice needs the support of a broad cross section of Americans — not just the minorities who will be its most obvious beneficiaries. I suspect that is why he made this point to appeal for wide support among fair-minded people: “In our criminal justice system, systemic and unwarranted racial disparities remain disturbingly common.” Black men, he said, “have received sentences that are nearly 20% longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes,” Holder told the members of Morgan’s graduating class.
Then, smartly, he left this emerging generation of leaders to make the connection between that harsh fact and Roberts’ head-in-the-sand strategy for ending racial discrimination.
I don’t think they’ll have any problems doing that.
DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication, writes on Tuesdays for USA TODAY.
What Exactly Was Donald Sterling’s Offense?
By Chuck Klosterman
We can probably agree that the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made offensive comments. But was his offense thinking racist thoughts? Or saying them out loud? Had he not been recorded, Sterling would have received a lifetime achievement award from the N.A.A.C.P. The victim of his remarks was himself: Sterling managed to (further) trash his own reputation. No one else was really injured. Is purity of thought the expectation for team owners? MARK ALEXANDER, ST. LOUIS
Many have asked if the N.B.A. is ethically justified in its effort to force Sterling to sell his ownership stake in the Clippers. It is. Sports franchises can’t be viewed as autonomous private businesses, because they don’t operate in that way. The league as a whole is the business, composed of 30 satellite offices in various cities. The teams are interconnected and some revenue is shared; this is why most players can be traded against their will, and rookie salaries can be capped. Purchasing an N.B.A. team is similar to buying a McDonald’s franchise. And if a specific McDonald’s outlet decided to have its counter employees wear Ku Klux Klan robes, few would disagree with corporate if it removed the proprietor of that store.
Your question, however, is harder (and it has scarcely been asked throughout this whole fiasco): Is Sterling losing his franchise because of what he said, or because of what he believes?
Because of Sterling’s history of suspected racism (as a landlord, he has been sued twice for housing discrimination, and though he denied wrongdoing, settled both cases out of court) and the bizarre contradictions on the tape itself (speaking to a female acquaintance, Sterling says he does not want her bringing black people to Clippers games, despite employing a black coach and a predominantly black roster), the decision to oust him feels easy. But what if the details were more obscured? Imagine if, six months ago, someone had raised the hypothetical notion of forcibly stripping a sports franchise from a longtime owner because a private conversation had been surreptitiously recorded. Few would champion such a premise. Yet Sterling’s punishment received almost universal support. Why? It was not simply what he said, nor simply what he believes — it was the intractable collision of those two things.
The expectation of an N.B.A. owner is not “purity of thought.” Sterling was perceived to be racist for years. But perception isn’t enough. You can’t penalize a person based on what you believe exists inside his mind. It must spill into the world. And this audiotape did exactly that. Had it been another owner’s voice on the tape — say, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks — there still would have been questions over the sentiment’s context. It would have seemed completely out of step with everything we know about Cuban. But with Sterling, there was no such incongruity. His words validated the longstanding perception of his worldview, and that made both problems nonnegotiable.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Amid Tumult, N.A.A.C.P. Elects 18th Leader
By Tanzina Vega
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People elected its 18th leader on Friday night at an annual meeting of the executive board members in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Cornell William Brooks, the head of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a civil rights research and advocacy organization, was elected president and chief executive by an overwhelming majority of the 64-person board, said Roslyn M. Brock, the chairwoman of the national board of directors for the N.A.A.C.P.
In an interview on Saturday morning, Mr. Brooks said he was “extraordinarily humbled and honored” at being chosen to lead the 105-year-old civil rights organization. He listed voting rights, economic equality and health equity as some of the most pressing civil rights concerns facing the country today.
“Clearly there’s much work to be done,” Mr. Brooks said.
Mr. Brooks, 53, is an ordained minister and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Jackson State University, a master of divinity degree from the Boston University School of Theology and a doctoral degree from Yale Law School. Mr. Brooks has served as senior counsel with the Federal Communications Commission and on the transition team for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey in 2010.
He has been married for more than 20 years, has two children and lives in Annandale, N.J. Mr. Brooks also owns a home in Prince William County in Northern Virginia and said he planned to move to the Washington, D.C., area for his new role. He will be formally introduced to the N.A.A.C.P. membership at the organization’s annual convention in July.
Ms. Brock said the N.A.A.C.P. had worked with the Hollins Group of Chicago to conduct a nationwide search for its new leader and had more than 450 candidates before settling on 30 finalists, eight of them women.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, the most recent president and chief executive, stepped down last year. Since then, Lorraine C. Miller has served as the interim president and chief executive. The organization has never had a woman fill the role of president and chief executive permanently, and there were calls to name one after Mr. Jealous’s departure. Ms. Brock remains the highest-ranking woman in the organization.
The election occurred during a difficult period for the N.A.A.C.P. both internally and externally. Ms. Brock said the organization “has taken proactive steps to improve our financial stability,” including reducing its staff by 7 percent in recent months. “Like all nonprofit organizations, we have experienced the ebb and flow of funding,” she said.
In an email sent to the staff at the end of April to explain the layoffs, Ms. Miller said the organization was facing “severe budget shortfalls and we need to align the shortfall with cuts.”
The organization’s Los Angeles branch is also under scrutiny after a decision by the branch’s leadership to honor Donald Sterling, the beleaguered Los Angeles Clippers owner, with a lifetime achievement award this month. Mr. Sterling’s foundations have given the Los Angeles branch at least $45,000 since 2007, records showed. The National Basketball Association banned Mr. Sterling from the league after a recording of racist remarks by Mr. Sterling was made public.
Ms. Brock said the organization had “quickly addressed that issue” and rescinded the award to Mr. Sterling. “The unit is moving forward under new leadership,” she said of the Los Angeles chapter, adding that the organization was instituting new guidelines for selecting award recipients.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Holder: Subtle examples of racism ‘cut deeper’
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a sharp rebuke Saturday to recent racist remarks by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team and a Nevada rancher, but he said the greatest threat to equality are “subtle” expressions of bigotry that remain a “troubling reality behind the headlines.”
In a commencement address to Morgan State University, Holder did not mention Clippers owner Donald Sterling and rancher Cliven Bundy by name, but he referred to the incidents of the “last few weeks and months” as “jarring reminders of the discrimination — and the isolated, repugnant, racist views — that in some places have yet to be overcome.”
“These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done — because the greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines,” Holder said. “They are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized.”
Holder’s comments were the most pointed on the issue of race since a controversial 2009 speech when he described the United States as a “nation of cowards,” saying Americans have avoided candid discussions on race.
Speaking on the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that forced the integration of public schools, Holder said “significant divisions” still persist in schools, the criminal justice system and other national institutions.
He said that school discipline policies, “while well-intentioned and aimed at promoting school safety, affect black males at a rate three times higher than their white peers.”
Within the criminal justice system, Holder said “systemic and unwarranted racial disparities remain disturbingly common.”
He referred to a 2013 U.S. Sentencing Commission study in which black men received prison terms that were 20% longer than those imposed on white men involved in similar crimes.
“Like a growing chorus of lawmakers across the political spectrum, we recognize that disparate outcomes are not only shameful and unacceptable — they impede our ability to see that justice is done,” Holder said. “And they perpetuate cycles of poverty, crime and incarceration that trap individuals, destroy communities and decimate minority neighborhoods.”
Holder also took issue with Chief Justice John Roberts, whom the attorney general said has “argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether.”
Roberts was part of a court majority earlier this year that upheld the rights of states to ban racial preferences in university admissions. The 6-2 decision came in a case brought by Michigan, where a voter-approved initiative banning affirmative action had been tied up in court for a decade.
“This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted,” Holder said. “In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”
Friday, May 16, 2014
As predicted, Offensive Karma led to the Los Angeles Clippers’ defeat in the NBA Playoffs. Now banned Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling is fighting the league’s $2.5 million fine and team sale plan. It will be interesting to see if Offensive Karma applies not only to basketball courts, but legal courts as well.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Sir John Hegarty wrote a book titled, Hegarty On Creativity—There Are No Rules. MultiCultClassics won’t bother reviewing the slim tome, as Financial Times already provided a thoroughly adequate appraisal. Rather, this post will focus on Hegarty’s insightful thoughts regarding ideas:
It’s important to add that having ideas is the most democratic of all the activities that we undertake. You don’t need special permission or a certificate to come up with a good idea. This can be done anywhere, at any time, without any special equipment or prior practice. It can be done sitting down, standing up, or lying down. Indeed, often the right idea will come to you when you’re not even thinking. That’s how brilliant we are at generating ideas, whatever our race, creed, color, gender, or age. Ideas are always there for you, waiting for you to think them up.
Okay, if idea generation is the most democratic and non-discriminatory activity, why is the advertising industry—particularly agencies such as Hegarty’s BBH—so lacking in diversity? Old White Guys like Hegarty are annoying in their cluelessness. Sir John pontificates on the imperative for fresh thinking. Yet when presented with addressing the monochromatic mess in our collective ranks, he coughs up the same old excuses and contrived solutions—or he literally and figuratively fails to show up. Brilliant.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
For a second, it looked like the selection of Dick Parsons as the new Los Angeles Clippers CEO might have potentially offset the Offensive Karma ignited by Donald Sterling’s racist rant. Alas, Sterling delivered an “apology” that included dissing Magic Johnson, which absolutely negated any goodwill generated by Parsons’ appointment. Johnson remarked, “I’m going to pray for [Sterling]…” Unfortunately, if Offensive Karma plays out, the Clippers don’t have a prayer.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Campaign asked, “What is the greatest football-related ad ever shown in the UK?” In the UK, of course, football is soccer. Wonder if any of the listed adverts were created by a Latino advertising agency. For UK agencies and audiences, football/soccer is ripe for breakthrough ad possibilities. In the US, it’s a contrived cliché for minority shops.
The 10 companies with the best corporate cultures were listed in a recent survey. Oddly enough, only one company—Colgate-Palmolive—was also on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity. Guess corporate culture and cultural competence don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
Here are the 10 companies with the best corporate cultures:
1. Progressive Corp.
2. Range Resources
3. American Electric Power
4. CNA Financial
5. CSX Corp.
8. Under Armour
10. Whole Foods Market
Monday, May 12, 2014
Sunday, May 11, 2014
In a recently uncovered new audio recording, Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling tried to explain his infamous racist remarks:
“The girl is Black. I like her. I’m jealous that she’s with other Black guys. I want her. So what the hell, can I in private tell her, you know, ‘I don’t want you to be with anybody’? … I’m trying to have sex with her. I’m trying to play with her. You know, if you (are trying) to have sex with a girl and you’re talking with her privately, you don’t think anybody’s there. You may say anything in the world. What difference does it make?”
Okey-doke. Sterling ought to have his pick-up lines published. Imagine how the smooth phrases might read:
“You’re so fine, don’t bring any Black people to my games.”
“Girl, you’d be perfect if you just remove all the Blacks from your Instagram.”
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Forget the moronic irony of encouraging people to stop reading via print ads—or the high likelihood that Harley enthusiasts aren’t readers to begin with. This Harley-Davidson campaign from the Czech Republic has scam written all over it.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Adweek reported Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy believes a lack of “equality” with Omnicom Group fueled the decision to nix the proposed merger. Lévy said, “One of the principals was that there will be equality in the management team. This has not been the case in the proposal of Omnicom and I was going back and forth to try to convince them that we should have equality. And it was impossible to get that equality.” Sorry, but an Old White Guy who runs a global corporation thoroughly lacking in diversity should not whine about equality. It takes cultural cluelessness to new heights of obscenity.
Publicis Says Inequality Doomed the Company's Union With Omnicom
Maurice Lévy cites difficulties in a planned merger of equals
By Andrew McMains
Omnicom Group thinks that cultural differences doomed plans for Omnicom and Publicis Groupe to merge, but Publicis Groupe believes inequality was the culprit.
In an interview with CNBC today, Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy said he went into the deal with the goal of being an equal partner with Omnicom but came out with the realization that it couldn't be done.
“One of the principals was that there will be equality in the management team,” Lévy said. “This has not been the case in the proposal of Omnicom and I was going back and forth to try to convince them that we should have equality. And it was impossible to get that equality.”
In retrospect, the CEO acknowledged that a garden variety acquisition—as in one company taking over another—is much easier than the so-called “merger of equals” that Publicis and Omnicom had sought.
“An acquisition—you are the master, you make your decision, people are acquired and they have nothing to say,” Lévy said. “A merger of equals—you have to share, to discuss almost every single decision. It’s more complicated.”
The CEO also spoke up for his company’s business model, which is built around the concept of shared services and platforms across all units. He suggested that the model is essential to delivering high margins, and would have been diluted under a combined Publicis Omnicom Group.
When asked how he feels about the merger collapsing, Lévy insisted that he was fine and felt supported. Still, he added, “It is disappointing to see that it’s not happening. And I’m feeling very disappointed for my team, who worked very hard.
“I’m not bitter. This is not my style,” he added. “I’m looking in the future. I'm looking forward and I’m focusing on the future. I think that Publicis has a bright future.”
Adweek reported Omnicom Group CEO John Wren admitted “cultural differences” with Publicis Groupe fueled the decision to nix the proposed merger. Wren said, “The cultural differences—and I want to emphasize these were differences of corporate, not national, culture—made it difficult to make decisions and by that I mean major operating decisions.” Well, of course the problems were rooted in corporate versus national culture. After all, both companies are predominately comprised of Old White Guys. Hell, it could be argued that cultural similarities likely led to the breakup. Too many White male egos can create combustible corporate conditions. Indeed, if the cultural differences were national—or heaven forbid, racial and ethnic—then surely Pioneer of Diversity John Wren could have handled things. Or is the failed union just another dramatization of the cultural cluelessness so prevalent in corporations like Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe?
Omnicom Says Cultural Differences With Publicis Were Significant
John Wren acknowledges the complexities of combining big players
By Andrew McMains
Omnicom Group CEO John Wren acknowledged this morning that the corporate differences between his company and Publicis Groupe were greater than he expected, as he explained to industry analysts why the two companies won’t merge after all.
“We knew that there would be differences in the corporate cultures of Omnicom and Publicis. That is to be expected any time strong management teams are coming together,” Wren said. “But I know now that we had underestimated the depth of these differences. The cultural differences—and I want to emphasize these were differences of corporate, not national, culture—made it difficult to make decisions and by that I mean major operating decisions.
“And while each issue could have been solved, it was taking too much time,” Wren added. “And that certainly did not bode well for running what would be a very large multinational company.”
Among those decisions, according to sources, was who would be CFO of the combined operation. Each company felt its current finance chief should get the nod. Interestingly, Omnicom CFO Randy Weisenburger spoke nearly as much as Wren during this morning’s conference call with analysts, staffers and reporters, suggesting his strong hand in helping to lead the company.
Weisenburger emphasized that Omnicom would go back to business as usual, with a focus on “people, product, profit.” More specifically, the company will resume its stock buyback program and consider acquisitions that are strategic and accretive. The CFO acknowledged that both practices had subsided since Omnicom and Publicis unveiled plans for its megamerger last July. Accordingly, Weisenburger plans to ask Omnicom’s board to accelerate the buyback program. “We certainly have some catching up to do,” he added.
As for acquisitions, Wren and Weisenburger showed no appetite for another large-scale deal. But again, if an acquisition helps the company strategically, Omnicom, which historically has never been a serial acquirer, would consider it.
Collectively, Omnicom and Publicis would have employed more than 130,000 staffers and generated $24 billion of annual revenue. Also, as one company, Publicis Omnicom Group would have had a market capitalization of about $35 billion.
Not surprisingly, Wren and Weisenburger said employees and major clients had reacted positively to the decision to quit the merger. Wren went further, however, to say that no clients or executives left as a result of the engagement, as if to respond directly to counterclaims by WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell.
In a brief moment of levity during the hour-long call, Wren summed up Omnicom’s reasons for walking away from the deal: “If I had to summarize in a tweet, it would be, ‘Corporate culture, complexity and time.’ And I would still have a hundred characters left.” Later, Wren, reading from prepared remarks, added: “In closing, I have a hundred characters left. I would tweet, ‘Omnicom strong, innovative, energized and ready for the future.’”
USA TODAY reported former Citigroup and Time Warner Chairman Dick Parsons was selected to serve as Los Angeles Clippers CEO, replacing owner Donald Sterling. Not sure if this move will offset the Offensive Karma that Sterling generated.
Dick Parsons, ex-Time Warner boss, tapped as interim Clippers CEO
By Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The NBA went business class in picking the Los Angeles Clippers’ interim CEO.
Former Citigroup and Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons was selected to run the Clippers in the aftermath of the lifetime ban of Donald Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Friday. The NBA took control of the Clippers in order to place Parsons in charge as the league proceeds with its plan to force Sterling to sell the team.
“Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers’ team, fans and partners have endured,” Parsons said in a news release. “A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam’s leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league. The Clippers are a resilient organization with a brilliant coach and equally talented and dedicated athletes and staff who have demonstrated great strength of character during a time of adversity.”
Parsons played basketball at the University of Hawaii in the late 1960s. He stepped from Albany Law School into a successful career in law and later corporate management. He has been CEO of Dime Bancorp in addition to his run as president and then CEO of Time Warner from 1995 through 2008. He was Citigroup chairman from 2009 through 2012.
“I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization,” Silver said in a news release. “Dick’s credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility.”
Sterling, the owner who made racist statements to a female friend on an audio recording that went public April 26, is barred from any contact with his team or the NBA, and Silver has pushed the NBA’s Board of Governors to force him to sell his team. But Sterling is expected to fight, and wife Shelly Sterling is interested in keeping her stake the franchise even if Donald Sterling is forced to sell, USA TODAY Sports’ Brent Schrotenboer reported Thursday.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Adweek and Advertising Age reported the proposed merger between Publicis Groupe and Omnicom has fizzled out. Guess this frees up Pioneer of Diversity John Wren to focus on bringing inclusion and racial harmony to the industry. Yippee!
Publicis and Omnicom Call Quits on Merger
Widely expected in recent weeks
By Noreen O’Leary
What were they thinking in the first place?
Now that Publicis Groupe and Omnicom have called off their $35 billion merger, the differences between the two companies as they attempted to combine their operations seem more glaring than any common vision of “equals” they trumpeted back in July. After the flourish in Paris of signing off on a doomed transaction, the relationship between Publicis CEO Maurice Levy and Omnicom counterpart John Wren quickly soured amid a power struggle for control and consensus upon management structure.
In recent months, it was a question of not if, but when, the two companies would call off the deal. Publicly, the merger has taken farcical turns. While Publicis’s Levy was telling analysts there were no tax issues beyond the usual French oversight, Omnicom’s Wren was advising investors that U.K. tax residency problems could be a dealbreaker for the Netherlands headquartered Publicis Omnicom Group.
Then on April 29, Le Monde, France’s newspaper of record, published an incendiary article calling the transaction a Publicis takeover of its much larger American counterpart, in all but name. Many observers believed both companies would pull the plug in mid-June after the Chinese regulatory approvals did not come through, as widely expected would be the case, and would provide a face-saving out for the proposed merger.
The official explanation put out by Omnicom about ending the transaction is that "in view of difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe the parties have released each other from all obligations with respect to the proposed transaction…" As such there will not be a $500 million termination fee incurred by either company.
In an internal email, Wren further explained the merger's collapse to Omnicom staffers:
“When we first communicated with you about the proposed merger last July we knew that the transaction was complex, with multiple regulatory and tax approvals to be secured before we could execute it. At the time we thought it would take a little over six months.
Over the past nine months it has become increasingly apparent, to both parties, that it is not clear how long it would take to resolve the open issues.
As you know a good concept is worth nothing unless it can be brilliantly executed in a timely way.
Both parties have now decided that it is in the best interest, therefore, of you, our people, our clients, and our shareholders to terminate the proposed merger.
Over the last year there has been a great amount of work done on the deal by a small group of Omnicom executives and a much larger group of advisors.”
To be sure that much larger group of advisors was at work: As of the end of 2013, Omnicom said it spent $41.4 million in pre-taxes charges related to the deal and another $7 million in the first quarter. (Publicis spent $52 million on merger-related expenses last year but has not yet detailed expenditures this year.)
Now it remains to see what the industry’s most high-profile, expensive failed transaction will do to the reputations of the companies’ two chief executives in the twilight of their careers who are considering their own legacies.