Racism

Roslyn Ruff (Berenice) - THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING  By Carson McCullers  Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch  Williamstown Theatre Festival  August 5 - 19
Carolyn Brown / Williamstown Theatre Festival

Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding,” directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, is running on the Main Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival through August 19.

Set in the South on the eve of a family wedding in 1945, housekeeper Berenice Sadie Brown tries to calm the nerves of her 12-year-old charge, Frankie, a tomboy - lonely and uncertain - struggling to feel a part of something.

McCullers novel was published in 1946 and the author adapted the story for the stage where it opened on Broadway in 1950.

Roslyn Ruff plays Berenice Sadie Brown. Ruff’s an accomplished television, film, and stage actress with Broadway credits that include “Romeo and Juliet” with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and “All the Way” with Bryan Cranston.

Joseph Crespino is the Jimmy Carter Professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of "In Search of Another Country," winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council, and "Strom Thurmond's America."

The publication of "Go Set a Watchman" in 2015 forever changed how we think about Atticus Finch. Once seen as a paragon of decency, he was reduced to a small-town racist. How are we to understand this transformation?

In "Atticus Finch," historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee's father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions.

The struggle to desegregate America's schools was a grassroots movement, and young women were its vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents began to file desegregation lawsuits with their daughters, forcing Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lawyers to take up the issue and bring it to the Supreme Court. After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, girls far outnumbered boys in volunteering to desegregate formerly all-white schools.

In "A Girl Stands at the Door," historian Rachel Devlin tells the remarkable stories of these desegregation pioneers. She also explains why black girls were seen, and saw themselves, as responsible for the difficult work of reaching across the color line in public schools. 

Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University.

At the age of nine, Issac J. Bailey saw his hero, his eldest brother, taken away in handcuffs, not to return from prison for thirty-two years. Bailey tells the story of their relationship and of his experience living in a family suffering from guilt and shame in his book, "My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Midst of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South." Drawing on sociological research as well as his expertise as a journalist, he seeks to answer the crucial question of why Moochie and many other young black men, including half of the ten boys in his own family, end up in the criminal justice system.

What role do poverty, race, and faith play? What effect does living in the South, in the Bible Belt, have? And why is their experience understood as an acceptable trope for black men, while white people who commit crimes are never seen in this generalized way?

Issac J. Bailey was born in St. Stephen, South Carolina, and holds a degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina. Having trained at the prestigious Poynter Institute for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida, he has been a professional journalist for twenty years. He has taught applied ethics at Coastal Carolina University and, as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, has taught journalism at Harvard Summer School.

Michael Eric Dyson is one of America’s premier public intellectuals and the author of the New York Times bestseller "Tears We Cannot Stop." He occupies the distinguished position of University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation.

His new book, "What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America" highlights a pivotal moment in America’s recent past. In May, 1963 a leading politician ended up learning more than he had bargained for when he asked America’s then hottest writer, and his friends over for a chat about black America’s rage. RFK walked away from the nearly three-hour meeting livid – that the black folk assembled didn’t understand politics, and that they weren’t as easy to talk to as Martin Luther King. But Kennedy’s anger quickly gave way to empathy. Kennedy set about changing policy – the meeting having transformed his thinking in fundamental ways.

Every big argument about race that persists to this day got a hearing in that room: disdain for black dissent, the belief that black folk wallow in the politics of ingratitude and victimhood, and that they lack hustle and ingenuity. In "What Truth Sounds Like," Dr. Dyson deftly merges this past and our present to explore the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy – of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape.

Toni Buckley - https://www.facebook.com/berkshireimmigrantstories

Two Pittsfield, Massachusetts high-schoolers are finding ways to educate their community about prejudice.

Vegas Tenold is an award-winning journalist. He has covered the far right in America for years, as well as human rights in Russia, conflict in central Africa and the Middle East, and national security. A graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, his work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, New Republic, and Al Jazeera America.

Six years ago, Vegas Tenold embedded himself among the members of three of America's most ideologically extreme white nationalist groups-the KKK, the National Socialist Movement, and the Traditionalist Workers Party. At the time, these groups were part of a disorganized counterculture that felt far from the mainstream.

But since then, all that has changed. Racially-motivated violence has been on open display at rallies in Charlottesville, Berkeley, Pikesville, Phoenix, and Boston. Membership in white nationalist organizations is rising, and national politicians, including the president, are validating their perceived grievances.

Patricia O’Toole is the author of "When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House," and "The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends," which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Her latest book, "The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made," is a biography of one of the most high-minded, consequential, and controversial US presidents, Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924). "The Moralist" is a cautionary tale about the perils of moral vanity and American overreach in foreign affairs.

Gilbert King is the author of "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America," which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. He has written about Supreme Court history and the death penalty for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine and The Marshall Project.

His new book, "Beneath a Ruthless Sun" tells a powerful, page-turning story rooted in the fears that rippled through the South as integration began to take hold, sparking a surge of virulent racism that savaged the vulnerable, debased the powerful, and roils our own times still.

SUNY Plattsburgh President Dr. John Ettling
SUNY Plattsburgh

In February, the SUNY Plattsburgh campus was thrown into turmoil after a screenshot of a social media post that mentioned lynching and used the n-word was reposted to get the administration’s attention.  The campus noticed.  Students protested and held a vote of no confidence in the college president and the chief diversity officer.  Members of the community joined solidarity marches across the campus.  In late February, SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling distributed a letter to the campus community outlining a series of steps to address racial bias.  As Dr. Ettling updates WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley, he says it was important to create an action plan following those painful days on the campus.

NYU

A racially insensitive menu for a Black History Month meal at New York University has led to a company apology and workers being fired.

Hawkins Hall on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus hosts the office of the campus president
Pat Bradley/WAMC

A racist Snapchat post shared with the SUNY Plattsburgh campus at large has led to student rallies and two votes of no confidence against members of the college administration.

Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker whose work on race has been featured in The Guardian, New York magazine, xoJane, Jezebel, and more. She is also an editor-at-large at The Establishment, and Seattle magazine named her "one of the most influential people" in Seattle.

In "So You Want to Talk About Race," Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

On July 17, 2014, a black man named Eric Garner died on a sidewalk after a police officer put him in what has been described as an illegal chokehold during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes.

In his new book, “I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street,” journalist Matt Taibbi writes about Garner's life, the police practices that contributed to his death and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2016, the president-elect of the United States openly called for segregation and deportation based on race and religion. Meanwhile, inequalities in education, housing, health care, and the job market continue to prevail, while increased insecurity and fear have led to an epidemic of scapegoating and harassment of people of color.

Yet, recent polls show that only thirty-one percent of white people in the United States believe racism is a major societal problem; at the same time, resistance is strong, as highlighted by indigenous struggles for land and sovereignty and the Movement for Black Lives.

Paul Kivel’s book: "Uprooting Racism" offers a framework around neoliberalism and interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism, along with stories of resistance and white solidarity. It provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice.

Paul Kivel has been a social justice activist, a nationally and internationally recognized anti-racism educator, and an innovative leader in violence prevention for over forty years.

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised twentieth anniversary edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum's new book is Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race.

Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel meets for the first time in Montpelier
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The first meeting of Vermont’s Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel was Tuesday in Montpelier.  The Legislature has tasked its members with providing recommendations to address systemic racial disparities across the state.

Police in South Glens Falls are investigating graffiti that read “Whites Only” that appeared outside a black resident’s apartment late Thursday or Friday.

Min Jin Lee’s historical novel, Pachinko, spans the entire 20th century through four generations, three wars and two countries with a troubled past.

The novel is a moving and powerful account of one of the world’s most persecuted immigrant communities—Koreans living in Japan. 

A protestor From Buffalo displays an antti-Carl Paladino poster May 17, 2017 on the steps to the State Education Building In Albany.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Activists from Western New York demonstrated Wednesday at the New York State Education Department building in Albany. The group had hoped to confront the State Education Commissioner to demand Carl Paladino be kicked off the Buffalo Board of Education.  But MaryEllen Elia was out of town.

In How May I Help You?: An Immigrant's Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage, Deepak Singh chronicles his downward mobility as an immigrant to a small town in Virginia. Armed with an MBA from India, Singh can get only a minimum-wage job in an electronics store. Every day he confronts unfamiliar American mores, from strange idioms to deeply entrenched racism.

Greg Iles’ Natchez trilogy has been compared to Faulkner and Conroy – the greatest Southern Gothic writers.

The themes in the trilogy include race issues in the south, past and present, the legacy of a father, small town relationships and unattainable love. The culmination of the trilogy, Mississippi Blood, is now out. 

Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from its establishment in 1930 until his retirement in 1962, Harry Anslinger is the United States’ little known first drug czar. Anslinger was a profligate propagandist with a flair for demonizing racial and immigrant groups and perhaps best known for his zealous pursuit of harsh drug penalties and his particular animus for marijuana users.

But what made Anslinger who he was, and what cultural trends did he amplify and institutionalize? In her book, Assassin of Youth, Alexandra Chasin looks to answer those questions and explore Anslinger’s social, cultural, and political legacy.

Alexandra Chasin is associate professor of literary studies at Eugene Lang College, the New School. 

At the end of Mark Twain’s masterwork, Huckleberry Finn declares that he plans to “light out for the Territory” to avoid getting “sivilized.”

For 130-plus years, readers have been left guessing about the adventures in the West. But now, Huck is back, thanks to prize-winning novelist Robert Coover. His novel is Huck Out West.

New York State Of Hate

Feb 21, 2017
WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

The Southern Poverty Law Center is out with an updated version of its "Hate Map." The group ranks New York state fourth in the nation for the number of active hate groups.

In the spring of 1942, the United States rounded up 120,000 residents of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast and sent them to interment camps for the duration of World War II. Many abandoned their land. Many gave up their personal property. Each one of them lost a part of their lives.

Amazingly, the government hired famed photographers Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others to document the expulsion--from assembling Japanese Americans at racetracks to confining them in ten camps spread across the country. Their photographs, exactly seventy-five years after the evacuation began, give an emotional, unflinching portrait of a nation concerned more about security than human rights. These photographs are more important than ever.

Nick Cave "Until" at MASS MoCA
Sarah LaDuke


  Nick Cave is an American fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist. He is best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and otherworldly.

In his new work, “Until,” Cave uses MASS MoCA’s football field-sized space to create his largest installation to date, made up of thousands of found objects and millions of beads, which will make viewers feel as if they have entered a sensory tapestry, like stepping directly inside the belly of one of his iconic Soundsuits.

For the piece Nick Cave and his curators and assistants have gathered 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 1 crocodile; 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys -- and so much more.

We visited MASS MoCA during the installation of “Until” - which opened on October 15th and will be on view in North Adams, MA through early September of next year.

Nick Cave and curator Denise Markonish lead us through the exhibition.


  Charles Dew, one of America’s most respected historians of the South, will tell us about his powerful memoir - The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade.

He turns the focus on his own life, which began not in the halls of enlightenment but in a society unequivocally committed to segregation.

 

In the book, Dew re-creates the mid-century American South of his childhood--in many respects a boy’s paradise, but one stained by Lost Cause revisionism and, worse, by the full brunt of Jim Crow.

 

The second half of the book shows how this former Confederate youth and descendant of Thomas Roderick Dew, one of slavery’s most passionate apologists, went on to reject his racist upbringing and become a scholar of the South and its deeply conflicted history.

 

The centerpiece of Dew’s story is his sobering discovery of a price

Charles Dew is Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College and the author of the Fletcher Pratt Award-winning Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War and Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge, selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

  Young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts. The unemployment rate for African Americans has been double that of whites for more than half a century. And yet Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first black president spelled doom for racist policies and racist beliefs. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious.

Award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.

A public university in New York says "hashtag StopWhitePeople2K16," used as the title of a recent training session, was chosen for its irony — and the session — about diversity — wasn't anti-white.

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