Playwright Katori Hall responds to a production of her play, The Mountaintop where the role of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been double-cast the role of King with a black actor and a white one.
Only a few weeks after becoming an independent media company, This American Life covers "The Problem We All Live With" -- namely, why desegregation is still the only proven way to improve bad schools, and what happens when one school district accidentally has to attempt it.
Letter to My Son, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, July 4, 2015: "I came to understand that my country was a galaxy, and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of West Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I obsessed over the distance between that other sector of space and my own. I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not... And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape."
The White Negro, Norman Mailer, 1957.
It is on this bleak scene that a phenomenon has appeared: the American existentialist—the hipster, the man who knows that if our collective condition is to live with instant death by atomic war, relatively quick death by the State as l’univers concentrationnaire, or with a slow death by conformity with every creative and rebellious instinct stifled (at what damage to the mind and the heart and the liver and the nerves no research foundation for cancer will discover in a hurry) , if the fate of twentieth century man is to live with death from adolescence to premature senescence, why then the only life-giving answer is to accept the terms of death, to live with death as immediate danger, to divorce oneself from society, to exist without roots, to set out on that uncharted journey into the rebellious imperatives of the self.[more inside]
The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
"What happens, exactly, when a white family that wants a white sperm donor gets a half-black child instead? In the case of a lesbian couple from Ohio, it means a "wrongful birth" lawsuit against the sperm bank — two years after the fact. " [more inside]
Uncomfortable in His Own Skin ‘Your Face in Mine,’ by Jess Row, a Novel About Changing Race: [New York Times]
"When literary fiction dares examine the issue of race at all, it is usually done in an exceedingly tone-deaf way (think William Styron’s Confessions Of Nat Turner or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help) or from a somewhat safe remove (think Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue). It always seems as if the story is accompanied by a blaring announcement that it’s time for this (white) protagonist to learn something. Sometimes the pedantic drum-banging can get so excessive it drowns out everything else, including the inclination to tell a good story. If nothing else, the debut novel from Jess Row, Your Face In Mine, is a refreshing plunge into the deep end of the race conversation." [A.V. Club][more inside]
The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
A frightening and violent mob swept through the normally quiet seaside community of Huntington Beach last night following a surfing competition in the area. Businesses were vandalized and looted, portable toilets overturned, and brutal fistfights waged right out in the open. It was an ugly display and a sad day for California. But more than that, it was a reminder that we must begin to seriously consider the values of our thuggish white youth.
(Oddly enough, do make sure to read the comments, they're amazing.)
White People Rapping Poorly is a tumblr blog that, in the words of the site's creator, collects a lot of videos of white people trying to rap and just failing miserably. [more inside]
Racebox.org A history of racial classification on the U.S. Census from 1790 to 2010.
Beyond the Pale: In a wide-reaching book review and with nods to James Baldwin's 1984 essay On Being White ... and Other Lies, Kelefa Sanneh makes a modern argument that white identity is founded on a series of negations: "to be white in America is to be not nonwhite, which is why it was possible, in 1961, for a white woman from Kansas living in Hawaii to give birth to a black baby." [more inside]
Why are Europeans white? "White," of course, is a a social designation. The question really is, "Why are northern Europeans depigmented?" [...] Most people know that it has something to do with sunlight, UV, latitude, and vitamin D. [...] But this explanation fails for Europe. Northern Europeans are lighter than everyone to the south (Mediterraneans), to the east (Mongols and east-Asians), to the west (Native Americans across the Atlantic), and to the North (Inuit, Sammi, Chukchi, Aleut). Clearly, there once was a factor at work in Europe other than dim sunlight. [more inside]
This past Thursday the Canadian government granted refugee status to Brandon Huntley, a South African who has been living illegally in Canada since 2005. Huntley claimed that if he were to be repatriated back to South Africa he would be persecuted due to the fact that he is white. The South African government is not amused. [more inside]
What is race in the Obama age? Some blacks say there are two black races, one poor and one rich. Does that mean Obama is from the rich black race? Some wonder if he's black enough or too black. Or do we have to choose among four options: "a) black or b) white or c) half-black and half-white or d) an American and who-gives-a-damn about his ethnicity"? Or is he multiracial? All I know for sure is he's the president.
M. Night Shyamalan has decided to cast white actors in the main roles of the upcoming motion picture based on the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. The problem: Avatar featured an Asian world with Asian characters, including Aang, the titular character, and his friends Sokka and Katara. [more inside]
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack as illustrated by lolcats. Also, White Liberal Bingo.
Record levels of immigration have had "little or no impact" on the economic well-being of Britons says a report (pdf) from an influential House of Lords committee. Initial reactions from the various parties, institutes and publications have been largely predictable. Coming so closely on the back of the BBC's recent "White" series on white working-class Britain, it looks likely to provoke some debate on British attitudes to immigration (pdf). [more inside]
If even most African-Americans believe the black poor are primarily responsible for their own plight, does that make it true?
Pictures of white men and their adopted Chinese daughters by photographer O. Zhang
"A Girl Like Me." 1947. Dr. Kenneth Clark conducts his "Doll Test." Dolls identical except for color were shown to black children at Scott's Branch Elementary School. His findings were published in 1950. According to his testimony during Brown v. Board of Education (1954), "Eleven of these sixteen children chose the brown doll as the doll which looked 'bad.'" 2007. 18-year old Kiri Davis wins CosmoGIRL's Take Action Hollywood film contest with her documentary short from 2006, "A Girl Like Me." (YouTube) In the film (produced with help from Reel Work Teen Filmmaking), she recreates Clark's "Doll Test" and finds: "Fifteen of the twenty-one children preferred the white doll." Sixty years on, and we've still so far to go. (via MyUrbanReport and Drifting Through The Grift)
Yellow Fever On why white girls won't date Asian guys.
Newsfilter: White people riot in Sydney, Australia They're upset that a lifeguard or something got beat up by a bunch of 'middle eastern looking' people.
The 'Acting White' Myth. When smart black kids try hard and do well, they are picked on by their less successful peers for 'acting white.' But it isn't true.
African-American == Black? Several high-school students at a predominantly white (well, predominantly NOT black) Nebraska high school were disciplined for a campaign to get 16-year-old student Trevor Richards awarded the school's annual "Distinguished African-American Student" award. Richards is from South Africa, now lives in America (not sure if he's a citizen, the CNN story isn't clear), but here's the catch: he's white.