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Race & Ethnicity

Anti-Choice Activists Dishonor Black History, Co-Opting Language of #BlackLivesMatter

But do they join the protests around the country calling for an end to police brutality? Not so much.

(AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Chris Pietsch)
(AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Chris Pietsch) Alveda King (center), niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., joined about 75 others in an anti-abortion prayer vigil at the Planned Parenthood office in Glenwood, Oregon, Monday, February 4, 2013. King has traded on the name of her famous uncle to become a leader in the right-wing anti-abortion movement. F or decades, a great debate has raged in this country between those who believe in the human right to a safe and legal abortion and those who call themselves “pro-life” and consider abortion to be morally wrong. The anti-choice community has always used shaming tactics. Whether touting faulty and confusing statistics or showing, to women entering reproductive health clinics around the country, gruesome Photoshopped images of what they say are aborted fetuses, anti-choice activists have relied on strategies designed to inspire fear and shame in the women they target—essentially, anyone considering getting an abortion. In recent...

'Selma' and 'The Birth of a Nation': A Tale of Two Films, 100 Years Apart

A century after D.W. Griffith's artful abomination, Selma succeeds by telling the true story of everyday people who come together to achieve the improbable.

T his year marks the 100th anniversary of D. W. Griffith’s infamous and influential film The Birth of a Nation . This anniversary is more significant than simply marking how far we have come since a time when joining the Ku Klux Klan could be depicted in the mainstream media as the way to heal our national wounds. The Birth of a Nation centennial, as coincidentally observed by the nationwide release of Selma , directed by Ava DuVernay, commemorates our enduring national desire to see our history performed and embodied. Since its premiere, The Birth of a Nation has been heralded as a landmark in film. For decades, critics and historians sidestepped its racist content to focus on the film’s pioneering techniques of editing and camera work, especially cross-cutting, panning/tracking shots, and close-ups. Despite this, the film was controversial from the start. The NAACP was stalwart in protesting it, particularly in New York during its nearly year-long run in the city. Many objected to...

How Mindfulness Can Transform Movements for Racial Justice and Equality

While Black History Month is rightly steeped in regard for the struggles and triumphs of the past, consciousness in the present is what will move us forward through the other 11 months of the year.

(AP Photo/Edward Kitch)
(AP Photo/Edward Kitch) The kind of mindfulness exemplified by Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, shown here at a 1966 news conference with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., could transform movements for racial and social justice. The American civil rights leader and the Buddhist master came together to call for a halt to the U.S. bombing of Viet Nam. This essay is published by The American Prospect in partnership with The OpEd Project's University of Texas at Austin Public Voices Fellowship. B lack History Month is like a meditation retreat where mindfulness is the goal, but it is not being cultivated in our everyday actions. In Buddhism, we say "mindfulness off the cushion" is the real aim of practice. Gil Fronsdal offers a wonderful analogy instructive even for those unfamiliar with Buddhist practice, describing meditation as “ mindfulness with training wheels .” In fact, #blacklivesmatter contains the seeds of a bona fide mindfulness movement within and across racial groups because...

Not Just Kumbaya: Multiracial Coalitions Yield Pragmatic Results for the Common Good

New research suggests that simple reminders of historic and contemporary discrimination can galvanize cross-racial coalition-building. And that's in everybody's interest.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
This article is published by The American Prospect in partnership with The OpEd Project’s Public Voices Fellowship at Northwestern University. (AP Photo/David Goldman) Protesters hold up their hands while chanting "hands up don't shoot" outside Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks inside to members of the community during an interfaith service, Monday, December 1, 2014, in Atlanta. T he Copenhagen shootings this past week once again have sparked fears around the world—including in the United States —of the threats of homegrown terrorism. Some, including Ed Miliband, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, urge world leaders to respond with unity in the face of rising intolerance in Europe towards both Muslims and Jews . Here in the United States, leaders like U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota—the first Muslim elected to Congress—and members of his heavily Muslim district have...

A Talent for Storytelling

Rick Perlstein tells how Reagan imagined his way into the American psyche.

(AP Photo)
This book review is from the Fall 2014 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here. Simon & Schuster The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan By Rick Perlstein 880 pp. Simon & Schuster $37.50 I n 1959, as the Cold War heated up and the economy cooled down, President Dwight Eisenhower received a letter from World War II veteran Robert J. Biggs. Tired of hearing the president explain the complexities of the modern world, Biggs begged Eisenhower to lead the nation with firm assertions rather than “hedging” and “uncertainty.” The former general responded that such guidance by authority was imperative in a military operation but fatal in a democracy. Self-government demanded that men reject easy answers and instead carefully weigh the often contradictory facts about great issues facing the nation. Just as Eisenhower did, Rick Perlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan , illuminates the deadly attraction of...

Beyoncé Misses the Point of What Gospel Music Means to Black Americans

The selection of Queen Bey to deliver a song identified with Mahalia Jackson ignored the importance of spiritual conveyance in the music that moved a people to action. 

(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP) Beyoncé performs "Take My Hand Precious Lord" at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony. This essay is published by The American Prospect in partnership with The OpEd Project's University of Texas at Austin Public Voices Fellowship. A ny recognition of black history and culture in this month or the next must acknowledge the central role spirituality and religiosity have played in the lives of African Americans. In the face of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other black men and women who have needlessly lost their lives, if we ever needed faith before, we sure do need it now. So it was with great interest I watched the Grammys and reveled in the power and resonance of John Legend and Common performing “Glory” the song they wrote for the movie Selma . Then my heart sank instantly when a rendition of the gospel song “Take My Hand Precious Lord” was performed by Beyoncé. Historically, spirituals and gospel music played...

Photo Essay: Vigil for Slain Chapel Hill Muslim Students

While the media lit up with arguments over whether or not Craig Hicks's execution-style killing of three young Arabs was a hate crime, the UNC community gathered to commemorate the lives of the slain. 

(Photo / Jenny Warburg)
This editor's note has been corrected to accurately state the academic affiliations of the slain students. O n February 10, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha was in her apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, when a man came in and shot the three of them, execution-style. The newlywed couple was in their early 20s; Razan Abu-Salha was 19. Barakat was a student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, where his wife, Yusor, was recently accepted for admission. Razan Abu-Salha attended North Carolina State University. Neighbor Craig Hicks was subsequently charged with the murders. Law enforcement officials said that Hicks's actions stemmed from a parking dispute; Barakat's father and many others called it a hate crime motivated by the murderer's contempt for either his targets' Islamic faith, or against Muslims, period. Family and friends of Barakat and the Abu-Salbas gathered on the university...

Chapel Hill Murders Are About More Than a Parking Dispute

Fights over space—whether in subways or suburban neighborhoods—are more often contests about privilege.

(Photo / Jenny Warburg)
(Photo / Jenny Warburg) Mourners at vigil in The Pit at University of North Carolina/ Chapel Hill on February 11, 2015, where the lives of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, who were killed in Barakat's apartment, allegedly by neighbor Craig Hicks, who shot each of them in the head. I have three categories of Facebook friends who are, like me, North Carolinians or University of North Carolina alumni. The first are deeply crushed by the murder of three young Muslim people in Chapel Hill on Tuesday. The second group is also horrified, but part — if not most — of their horror derives from their dismay that mass murder could occur in their idyllic and upper-class town. Then there’s the third group whose members are, at best, are in denial; at worst, they’re willfully blind. For those unfamiliar with the idiosyncrasies of my home state, Chapel Hill is known as a mythically progressive oasis in a red state, and it’s squarely in the Triangle, a...

Will House Whip Scalise Disavow David Duke's Latest Claim About Him?

The white nationalist and former Klansman says the House Republican "agreed with all my ideas."

(AP Photo/Burt Steel)
(AP Photo/Burt Steel) Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters at a reception Saturday, May 29, 2004, in Kenner, Louisiana. This article originally appeared at Right Wing Watch , the website published by People For the American Way. L ast month, [former Ku Klux Klan official] David Duke stopped by the white nationalist radio show “The Political Cesspool” to discuss his relationship with House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who reportedly spoke at a 2002 gathering held by Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization when he was a state lawmaker in Louisiana. Duke blamed the controversy on the supposed Jewish establishment, which he claimed controls the media and wants to throw “European-Americans” into gulags, and which he said sees Scalise as a potential threat down the road. Duke said that he consistently won “over 60 percent of the popular vote in [Scalise’s] congressional district” in his various campaigns for elected office, and therefore people who...

Index: The 1 Percent Cleans Up in Florida and the South

Since 2009, Florida's elite captured all of the state's income growth—and then some.

Institute for Southern Studies
Institute for Southern Studies In 39 states, the wealthiest 1 percent captured at least half of the income growth between 2009 and 2012. In 17 states of those states, the 1 percent captured it all. This article originally appeared at Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies. Percent of U.S. states that have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades: 100 Of the 50 states, number where the wealthiest 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2012: 39 Number of states where all of the income growth during that period went to the wealthiest 1 percent: 17 Number of those dramatically unequal states that are in the South: 5 * In Florida, among the most unequal states, percent change in the top 1 percent's income from 2009 to 2012: +39.5 Percent change in income for Florida's bottom 99 percent in that period: -7.1 Percent share of total income growth captured by Florida's wealthiest: 259.9 Income growth captured by...

To Check Power of Greedy Bosses, Workers Need to Bargain in New Ways

When workers' power is diminished and people’s voices are shut out of the workplace, job quality and job standards suffer.

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman) Tanya Melin of Chicago, right, Service Employees International Union members, home care consumers, workers, and allies rally in support of home care funding at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 in Springfield, Illinois. W ork looks a lot different today than it did 100, 50, or even 10 years ago: It’s faster, it’s automated, and it’s complex. We used to pin these shifts on globalization; now we’re tying everything to the rise of an on-demand sharing economy. And while it may seem like progress in terms of how quickly and cheaply we can get things, we can’t forget that it’s happening at the expense of regular people and their ability to work full time and earn a decent living. That’s because, for far too long, greedy CEOs have held all of the power, giving those of us doing the work very little room to make our voices heard. Corporate interests have been on a decades-long bender to depress wages, benefits and job standards, trapping you and me and...

Here's How to Achieve Full Employment

If we don't get there, then many communities—particularly those of color—will be left out of the recovery.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
iStockPhoto The following is the testimony of Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on “Expanding Opportunity in America’s Schools and Workplaces” on February 4, 2014. It originally appeared at the EPI website , where you can also find the source material . I t is encouraging that there is now widespread agreement across the political spectrum that the key economic challenge is middle-class income stagnation. To address this stagnation we must confront two underlying trends. The first is to address the ongoing but incomplete jobs recovery from the financial crisis that Wall Street inflicted on the global economy. The second trend is the stagnation of wages for the vast majority of workers since the late 1970s, an era of “wage suppression.” That wage trends lay at the heart of income stagnation is just common sense. After all, middle-class families rely almost completely on what they earn from their...

Labor at a Crossroads: Time to Experiment

New organizing will be propelled by committed activists, but will have to be sustained by huge numbers of members and supporters.

Working America
This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . I love the breadth and gusto of the new labor organizing, which includes plenty of innovation based in old labor organizing as well. This mash-up of practical experiences will help produce breakthrough tactics and strategies. There is also a question of purpose—is our aim to improve working conditions, or is it to build a more powerful working class? These are related, clearly, but suggest different strategies and structures. Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a laboratory for change. Here are three areas at the top of our list for exploration in this realm. Changing minds Pollsters call this “the frame”—but really, it’s ideology. Working...

Labor at a Crossroads: Can Broadened Civil Rights Law Offer Workers a True Right to Organize?

It's one way to allow victims of anti-union discrimination to sue in federal court for compensatory and punitive damages.

(AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
(AP Photo/Alex Sanz) U.S. Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, is co-sponsoring, with Rep. Keith Elison of Minnesota, legislation that would broaden the Civil Rights Act to include workers who are discriminated against for wanting to join a union. Lewis, shown here on December 22, 2014, discusses the historical film Selma and civil rights in the United States during an interview in Atlanta. Forty-nine years after Lewis and other marchers tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, memories of "Bloody Sunday" are still vivid in his mind. It was one of the defining moments of the civil rights era. This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . O rganized labor, which represents only 1...

How to Be a Walking 'Confirmation Bias' (Role Model: Mia Love)

It's easy to write off Mia Love and Allen West but these very visible blacks hurt the quest for equality.

ABC News/This Week With George Stephanopoulos
ABC News/This Week With George Stephanpoulos Representative Mia Love, Republican of Utah, appeared on the January 4 edition of the ABC News program This Week With George Stephanpoulos to defend House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the wake of revelations that he once addressed a white supremacist group. H ave you ever been in a debate with your right-wing uncle and when you ask him for proof of his wild claims, he pulls up a Fox News article? Instinctively, you roll your eyes. Of course he sought out Fox News as a source—it’s a haven for people like him. Everything he already thinks about minorities, LGBTQ people, Muslims and single moms is there. Automatically turning to Fox News to search for information that he knows will affirm what he already believes is called a confirmation bias. On December 29, news broke that Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the new House majority whip, had addressed a white supremacist group in 2002. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David...

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