Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Nat Turner movie

I just read about the new movie about Nat Turner's slave rebellion, slated to come out in October.  It looks beautiful and brutal.  Along with the new Black Panther comic book coming out in September, authored by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and late 2016 looks to have some really cool black narratives in the pipeline.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Yorker series on the 43 disappeared students in Mexico

My readers may or may not remember the case of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa school who were ambushed by police and other masked gunmen in Guerrero, Mexico in late 2014, and whose subsequent disappearance has still not been explained to anyone's satisfaction.  I'm linking to an article by Francisco Goldman about the Ayotzinapa case.  It is the first in a (I believe) seven-part series that recently concluded.  The article layout isn't that convenient for reading through the whole series, but if you click on the author's name, you can see all of his recent long-format articles, most of the older ones relating to this heinous crime.

The Ayotzinapa case really affected me personal, because the student victims had a similar profile to the students I used to work with in my university job in Colombia.  They are children of peasants looking on the one hand to improve their lot in life through education, but on the other hand they don't want to leave behind or forget their communities, so they train to be teachers that can return to where they're from and help improve life for other children.  It is a noble aspiration that we should all be supporting, not reviling.  The fact that such students often subscribe to a radical leftist ideology is natural; if you are the product of a stiflingly unjust system and you receive a critical education, of course you are going to understand that your impoverishment and that of an entire population corresponds to an active process of exclusion and oppression by the powerful.  In any case, someone's ideology should have no impact on the value we ascribe to their life; no one deserves to be attacked, murdered, or disappeared, nor to even live under the threat of such treatment.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

More depth on media racial bias

This is a very well-reasoned, sobering analysis of how media bias against black people actually makes it more likely that they be oppressed by the criminal justice system and society in general.  Essentially the author argues that the stereotypes and biases promoted by the media translate into discrimination in the real world by the people who are shaped by these media messages.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another musical force gone

I was really sorry to hear about Prince's death.  It seems like we've had a lot of real cultural innovators and icons die in the past few years, at least innovators that I grew up with, like Robin Williams, David Bowie, and now Prince.

Here is an article depicting Prince's lesser-known side as an advocate for high-tech jobs for minority youth.  It's funny; I am not particularly interested in technology as such.  I am a pragmatic user, not an enthusiastic tinkerer or aficionado.  But just today I was thinking about how to reverse the outflow of population from Chicago, and particularly our black population, by promoting cutting-edge tech education and employment in the city.  It's odd to read about Prince's similar interest in the subject on the occasion of his death today.

Anyway, over the next few days I'll surely be thinking of this great artist and apparently great advocate for our black youth.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ungentrified schools in gentrified neighborhoods

This articles describes a study that found that schools in gentrifying, increasingly white areas of New York City often remain predominantly poor and non-white.  This is a trend that I think most people who have grown up in gentrified or gentrifying cities are well aware of.  The white, wealthier families in such neighborhoods often don't send their kids to neighborhood public schools, opting instead for private schools or non-neighborhood special public schools.  I am a product of this trend, as I went to an out-of-neighborhood special program within the Chicago public schools.  During this time, my neighborhood became almost totally white and wealthy, while the neighborhood school half a block from my house remained almost totally nonwhite and poor. 

This is not a good thing, because it means that one of the few possibilities that exists for gentrification to also improve life for the poor in a city is not being realized.  Namely, if the higher income and education levels of the new arrivals do not bleed over as their children attend school with poorer kids, then there really is no upside for the poor families; they see their cost of living rise, but receive no corresponding improvement in their economic situation or the prospects for their children.