Thursday, August 12, 2010

NEWS: Race In America Edition

Black Gays Talk Selma And Stonewall: How They Missed The Mark
Neither the mainstream LGBT community nor the mainstream African-American community has found a way to unite behind common issues of concern. Too often conversations take on a posture of assessing the threat one community poses to the other and how it can be overcome. While there has been some effort on the part of the organized LGBT community to support issues of importance to the African American community and vice versa, it has not been sufficient. This regrettable reality undermines the potential for meaningful partnerships between the black and LGBT communities, and ultimately renders the black LGBT community invisible as the effort has been less about deep engagement on shared policy goals and more about overcoming short-term threats or obstacles. READ MORE

Race and Genetics: Not So Black and White

A white baby girl with a mop of blonde hair and blue eyes has been born to black parents living in London. How is this possible? While there have been several cases of different coloured twins born to parents with mixed-race ancestry in recent years, Ben and Angela Ihegboro, who are originally from Nigeria, say they have no such origins which could explain the phenomenon that is their new daughter Nmachi. In the case of Nmachi, there are three possible explanations of why she looks so very different from her older brother and sister, who are both black: dormant white genes which entered both of her parents' families long ago, a genetic mutation unique to her, or albinism. Like many human traits, a person's colour is influenced by about 12 different genes, which together control the amount of pigment - or melanin - produced in the skin. It is in principle at least possible that both parents carried light skin gene variants, inherited from unknown white ancestors on either side, which in their cases were masked by dark skin gene variants. In this way, white parents can also produce a black child. In Europeans, it is possible - if highly unusual - that African DNA from those who were brought to the continent as Roman slaves joins in two fair parents to produce a dark-skinned child. READ MORE

President Obama talks race, pop culture on 'The View'
President Barack Obama said Thursday (July 29, 2010) that the racial firestorm that led to the ouster of a black Agriculture Department official was a "phony controversy" generated by the media. He said his administration overreacted by forcing her out. In an interview on ABC's daytime talk show "The View," Obama said the forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod shows racial tensions still exist in America. "There are still inequalities out there. There's still discrimination out there," Obama said. "But we've made progress." Sherrod was forced to resign after a conservative website posted an edited video of her speaking about race. Sherrod said the video took her remarks out of context. When her full remarks were discovered, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized and offered Sherrod a new job at the department. Obama pinned much of the blame for the incident on a media culture that he said seeks out conflict and doesn't always get the facts right. But he added, "A lot of people overreacted, including people in my administration." The Sherrod incident added another wrinkle to an administration already burdened by the slow pace of the economic recovery, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Gulf oil spill. While acknowledging that the country has gone through a tough stretch since he took office, Obama said he remains optimistic about the direction the U.S. is headed."What has been satisfying is just seeing how resilient the American people are," he said. Obama's interview with "The View" was the first appearance on a daytime talk show by a sitting president. The wide-ranging interview also dipped into Obama's knowledge of pop culture, an area he showed some proficiency, admitting that he knows actress Lindsey Lohan is in jail. (AP)

President Obama pulls in record 'View' audience
Not in nearly 3,000 airings of ABC's "The View" has the series nabbed the kind of numbers it brought in for its July 29 visit from President Barack Obama. The first ever daytime talk appearance of sitting president averaged 6.6 million viewers during its one-hour broadcast.

Shirley Sherrod plans to sue right-wing blogger

Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted a video edited in a way that made her appear racist. Sherrod was forced to resign last week as director of rural development in Georgia after Andrew Breitbart posted the edited video online. In the full video, Sherrod, who is black, spoke to a local NAACP group about racial reconciliation and overcoming her initial reluctance to help a white farmer. Speaking Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Sherrod said she would definitely sue over the video that took her remarks out of context. Sherrod said she had not received an apology from Breitbart and no longer wanted one. "He had to know that he was targeting me," she said. READ MORE

New York City to Pay $7 Million for Sean Bell Shooting
Closing a key chapter in one of the most controversial police shootings in recent memory, New York City agreed on Tuesday to pay more than $7 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the family and two friends of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man who was fatally shot by the police in 2006 on what would have been his wedding day. The lawsuit, filed in 2007, accused the police of wrongful death, negligence, assault and civil rights violations. But it had repeatedly stalled as the state and federal governments and city police officials investigated the shooting. On Nov. 25, 2006, five police officers — three of whom were black and two white — fired 50 shots into the Nissan Altima that Mr. Bell was driving outside a strip club in Queens. The car struck a detective in the leg and hit a police van just before the officers began firing. None of the three men in the car had guns, although the officers apparently believed at least one did. Three of the officers were acquitted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges in State Supreme Court in Queens in 2008. The other two officers who opened fire did not face criminal charges. Federal prosecutors declined in February to file civil rights charges against the officers, citing insufficient evidence. READ MORE