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Monthly Archives: July 2013

New Crowd-Funded Film Explores America’s “White Privilege” Problem

Thanks to generous supporters on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, anti-racism activist Tim Wise has raised more than $41,000 for a feature film adaptation of his 2008 book, "White Like Me: Reflections On Race From A Privileged Son." A frequent MSNBC guest and lecturer, Wise, 44, has crisscrossed the country to discuss white privilege, racial bias, and discrimination. He wants the film to further the national conversation on race, specifically what it means to be white in this country. "We live with the legacy of inequality," Wise says in the trailer, "but also the legacy of obliviousness that allows those in the dominant group to rarely even think about these matters." The film is enhanced by an impressive list of scholars, including Princeton's Imani Perry; Michelle Alexander, who... Read More →

Rita Dove On “Trayvon, Redux,” Her Poem Posted On The Root Three Days After The Verdict

                            by Rita Dove  On Trayvon Martin, today I find myself at a loss for words -- or rather, I used up all the words in the poem itself. The entire matter is so complex and sorrowful, the implications so insidious and dire, that I could only respond in the way I know best-- by taking up one angle of vision, one point of view, and writing out of that moment. To say any more would be redundant and dangerously inaccurate. Trayvon, Redux It is difficult/to get the news from poems /yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there./Hear me out/for I too am concerned/and every man/who wants to die at peace in his bed/besides. William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, that... Read More →

Finally! “Half Of A Yellow Sun” Trailer Hits The Web

After months of little publicity, the official trailer for "Half Of A Yellow Sun" has been released, weeks ahead of the film's debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September.    The big screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's acclaimed 2006 novel has been in the works since 2008. First-time director Biyi Bandele, celebrated Nigerian novelist and playwright, has ushered the project from script to screen.    Unlike most productions in Nollywood, Nigeria's film industry, "Half of A Yellow Sun" has serious Hollywood power in its starting line-up: Thandie Newton (Crash), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Inside Man) and Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) all star. No formal release date has been announced. Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think. (Be warned: there are 10 seconds of... Read More →

If Violence Is Contagious, Then What Is The Cure?

Contrary to its pop culture rep as a hipster haven, Brooklyn has the unpleasant distinction of being the bloodiest of New York City's five boroughs. According to a 2013 NYPD report (for the year 2011), 36 percent of all homicides in New York City occurred in Brooklyn. In 2012, a group of engaged citizens formed Man Up!, a grassroots group designed to stop gun violence in its tracks. The results have been impressive: No shootings or killings for the past year. The group’s strategy? Treat gun violence as a public health issue and react to it the same way as a disease epidemic. In layman's terms, this means the members of Man Up! go into the most volatile areas (unarmed), mediate problems, and offer alternative options for those on a dangerous path. These "violence interrupters," as they... Read More →

Surge Of International Students Shifts Landscape Of American Colleges

This August 14, the graduate program at Case Western Reserve University for a Masters of Finance will welcome 60 new students, culled from more than 1,000 applicants. This entering class will be 95 percent Chinese, all international students eager to learn about securities and capital markets that are newly applicable in their homeland. This dramatic demographic shift has its echo in American undergraduate ranks. U.S. colleges and universities are enrolling a surge of new students from China, tripling in the last three years, according to data from the Institute of International Education. The first-year class at Case will include 135-150 new international students, the largest cohort in the Cleveland university’s history. The vast majority will be from China. These students—more... Read More →

Young Gifted Local Poets To Grace The Stage At September’s Anisfield-Wolf Ceremony

One highlight of the annual Anisfield-Wolf awards ceremony is listening as a gifted local student reads aloud a poem of her or his own making. Last year, second-grader Isabella Rodriguez commanded a rapt audience with "Home," a remarkable work that begins “Suppose there is a city in the Buddha’s lap and his knees are the mountains singing.” Her work was captured by the Traveling Stanzas project, a community arts project led by Wick Poetry Center and Kent State University's Glyphix design studio. Community members and visitors to Northeast Ohio can see the beautifully designed posters "traveling" our region on Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority vehicles, as well as on Portage County's PARTA. Watch this arresting, one-minute video treatment of Isabella reading her poem, with... Read More →

Facebook Profile Photos Turn Black In Anticipation Of George Zimmerman Verdict

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, changed her Facebook profile picture to this "blackout" photo of Trayvon. As the George Zimmerman trial draws to a close, the simmer of daily conversation on social media has heated to a boil.  And comments are growing sharper in anticipation of a verdict in a case that began the night of Feburary 26, 2012, when an unarmed Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by Zimmerman, who is claiming self-defense.  Now, a simple way to indicate support of Trayvon Martin's family is spreading across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Instead of the typical signature photos of happy, smiling individuals, people are switching their profile pictures to a simple black square.  The "Justice For Trayvon Martin" Facebook Page turned its profile photo... Read More →

“Staring In The Mirror”: Prejudice, Biases and Fighting Human Nature

by Sally Wiener Grotta A recent Anisfield-Wolf blog post asked, “What Biases Are You Carrying?” In the blog, Attorney Louise P. Dempsey  used the following riddle as part of a lunch talk: A man and his son were in a car accident. The critically injured man had to be helicoptered to the hospital. His son was rushed by ambulance to the same hospital. When the boy was wheeled into emergency surgery, the surgeon looked at him and said, “I can’t operate. This is my son.” The blog then asked the question, “How is this possible?” If you haven’t heard that anecdotal test before, consider your answer for a few moments before continuing to read. I’ve seen the riddle before. So, I knew the answer. Of course, the surgeon was his mother. But even steadfast feminists... Read More →

“Twenty Feet From Stardom”: Powerful Voices Cement Background Singers’ Place In History

The gorgeous new documentary, “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” delivers several jolts of insight, including this small one: Women who can hit and bend those beautiful notes have glorious laughs. Laughter buoys much of this 90-minute film that explores the unheralded world of backup singers. The spotlight falls on Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, Tata Vega and Merry Clayton. “About time, too,” as Bette Midler remarked in 2011 when she introduced Love as a new inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These women – mostly African-American – sang back up on countless rock classics, adding vocal transcendence to the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and plenty of others. And because they sang the bridge, they – not the stars ... Read More →

Revisiting The Voting Rights Act: Could You Pass A 1960s Literacy Test?

When the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the watershed 1964 law had worked as intended: Racial discrimination had decreased and a record number of voters were now people of color. But how well do we remember the inequalities the law was protecting against? A leader in the civil rights movement, Rep. John Lewis had a front-row seat to the tactics used to keep black people out of the voting booth. Physical intimidation, poll taxes, and literacy tests were all bent to the task. Segregationists designed literacy tests to be deliberately confusing. They imposed tight time constraints to increase errors. "Black people with Ph.D. and M.A. degrees were routinely told they did not read well enough to pass the... Read More →
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