Last night, a 28 year old man named Akai Gurley was shot to death in a stairwell by an NYPD officer who was patrolling the Pink Houses in East New York. Gurley and his girlfriend had decided to take the stairs because the elevator was taking too long. Police Commissioner Bratton said today that the victim was “a total innocent” and called the shooting "an unfortunate accident." [more inside]
Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson? - According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas and wooden rounds into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling, the paramilitarization of police and media depictions of black shooting victims have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety.
How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel test for films where a film must have a) two or more main female characters who b) talk for five minutes about c) something other than men. It’s amazing to see that not many films pass this test. So, I’m initiating this now (unless it’s already been done…): The Shukla Test, for books, films and television where a) two main characters who are people who of colour b) talk for five minutes without c) mentioning their race. [more inside]
'I'm a White Girl': Why 'Girls' Won't Ever Overcome Its Racial Problem-an article from The Atlantic with several interesting links on the larger issue of including (or not) black characters into American television.
The 4th Estate corrects its numbers - "That journalism struggles with racial diversity is old news, but a study released on Thursday by The 4th Estate tried to quantify the magnitude of the problem. The organization released an infographic showing that, among the 38 most influential newspapers in the country, 93 percent of front-page articles about the 2012 election were written by white reporters. The infographic received a host of coverage." [more inside]
Recently, it was announced that Zoe Saldana has been cast to play Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic. Objections to this casting decision include references to Simone's own embrace of her own dark-skinned appearance and have brought up colorism, which has been noted in other recent films, such as Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, where Harriet Tubman was depicted by Jacqueline Fleming, a biracial actress. Colorism is more than the warped preferences of the Hollywood star system, but an issue that affects the daily lives of black American women. Highlighting the effects of colorism is a short documentary film made by a teenage girl in 2007, "A Girl Like Me," which features different girls' takes on, among other social issues relating to black women, the role of skin tone in beauty standards. Simone herself touched on this issue in her song, "Four Women." [more inside]
Black people are coming for you white people. Rachel Maddow argues that is the underlying theme of the four major Fox News-only stories of the Obama administration: Van Jones, ACORN, the New Black Panther Party, and now Shirley Sherrod. These stories are largely ignored by the mainstream media, but are being relentlessly pushed by Fox News in an effort to stoke white resentment towards the nation's first African American president.
There's been more and more rumblings lately about the inclusiveness (or lack thereof) of diversity in the circles of sci-fi and fantasy. Pam Nole's classic Shame essay hits a lot of points and while the Carl Brandon Society has been fighting the good fight for some time, more and more people are gathering their own projects, such as Transcriptase or Verb Noire to create spaces and publishing arenas less biased. Are these even necessary? It seems the fans think so.
The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
It's official. Obama has won the Democratic Party nomination for the US Presidency. In response, McCain has launched a "verbal sortie" against him and the media has already begun disecting Hillary's campaign.
Bill Moyers interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in his first broadcast interview with a journalist since he became embroiled in a controversy for his remarks and his relationship with Barack Obama [more inside]
NBC apologizes to Latinos for 'Law & Order' episode The network's action was swiftly criticized by Dick Wolf, executive producer of the long-running legal drama. So a TV network caves into a lobbying group, even though the episode was based on real events.