Category Archives: Race

History Channel Portrays Hannibal as Black, White People Cry Foul Over ‘Historical Revisionism’

History Channel‘s newest documentary series, Barbarians Rising, tackles the fall of Rome over the course of 700 years of invasions. However, the most recent episode that aired Monday depicts Hannibal of Carthage as a Black man, and many white history buffs are crying foul over the “historical inaccuracy.”

Image result for barbarians rising

In the series, Hannibal is portrayed by Black British actor Nicholas Pinnock. The famous Carthaginian was a thorn in the empire’s side. He became a general at the age of 26 and managed to unite barbarian tribes to stop Rome’s imperial rise. The military genius was famous for climbing the Alps with war elephants whose sole purpose was to stomp the Roman army.

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More from Atlanta Black Star

Posted by the NON-Conformist

Not a Single Black Woman Heads a Top Fortune 500 Company

The lack of diversity in upper levels of corporate America in 2017 is shocking.

Every year, Fortune magazine releases its Fortune 500 list, a ranking of the top 500 most profitable corporations in the U.S. In the 63 years Fortune has published the Fortune 500, the CEOs at the head of the 500 listed companies have traditionally skewed male. This year’s list is no exception, even if it contains a slight improvement in its gender balance: The 2017 rankings include the most number of female CEOs ever in the list’s history—a total of 32 women. This marks a 50 percent increase from last year’s list, in which there were only 21 female CEOs.

But while this year’s Fortune 500 makes history in gender diversity, it is in no way representative of a country where women make up about 47 percent of the workforce, according to the Department of Labor. More glaring still is its miniscule number of women of color—Geisha Williams from PG&E, the first Latina ever featured on the Fortune 500, and Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo are the only two on this year’s list. In addition, there are no black women among this year’s Fortune 500 CEOs.

The lack of gender and racial diversity on the Fortune 500 reflects larger systemic trends about the makeup of corporate America. For instance, while women of color make up one-third of the workforce, they comprise only 16.5 percent of employees for S&P 500 companies, according to the research organization Catalyst. There are even fewer women of color in senior positions: less than 10 percent of managers, 3.9 percent of executives and a scant 0.4 percent of CEOs. In looking at the overall makeup of women in S&P 500 companies, white women surpass women of color in every major employee category. The corporate boards in Fortune 500 companies are no more diverse, where the latter hold only 3.1 percent of seats.

The obstacles facing women of color in the workforce, particularly in corporations, are born of both gender and racial biases. Catalyst labels these roadblocks a “concrete ceiling,” a telling contrast to the “glass ceiling” typically encountered by white women.

“Not only is the ‘concrete ceiling’ reported to be more difficult to penetrate, women of color say they cannot see through it to glimpse the corner office,” Catalyst President Sheila Wellington said to Forbes in 2015.

For women of color, the “concrete ceiling” places the prospect of moving up the corporate ladder even further out of reach. A survey conducted by the Center for Women Policy Studies showed that 21 percent of women of color said they did not feel free to “be themselves at work.” In addition, one third of women of color thought they must “play down” their race to succeed.”

One of the facets contributing to this “concrete ceiling” is the fact that women of color are perceived and treated differently because of their race and gender, especially by their male counterparts. Past studies have shown that women of color who try using the same tactics as men to get ahead in the workplace often see diminished results in the form of less advancement and slower pay growth.

Not only do women of color face obstacles seeking promotions in the workplace, but they are consistently paid less than other white women and far less than white men. The oft-repeated line is that women, in general, make 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes. According to a 2014 report from the American Association of University Women that compared the earnings of women to men, black women made 64 cents, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women made 65 cents, indigenous women made 59 cents, and Hispanic women made 54 cents for every dollar white men earned in 2013. The only minority group to earn more than white women was Asian-American women, who still earned just 90 cents on white men’s dollar.

by Celisa Calacal/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Democrats Appear to Have a Race Problem

The month after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, he made a point to thank African-Americans for not showing up to vote.

“They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary,” he said at a rally in Hershey, Pa. “They didn’t come out. And that was a big . So, thank you to the African American community.”

Trump’s comments, like so many of his other racially charged statements, drew widespread criticism. Yet, six months after his passive-aggressive display of gratitude to the Black community, the media continues to point the finger at African-Americans for the Democratic Party’s failures.

Just last week, the political website FiveThirtyEight published an article taking aim at African-Americans for not turning out for the Democratic Party like they did when Obama was on the ballot. The piece, written by Republican digital strategist Patrick Ruffini, suggests that the future of the Democratic Party hinges on the Black electorate.

“In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the Sixth District in the suburbs of Atlanta,” Ruffini wrote. “This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, Black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016. This Black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities — except African-Americans.”

But the reality of the situation is far more complex. Ruffini conveniently overlooks the role voter suppression efforts, such as voter ID laws and the disenfranchisement of felons, played in lowering the number of Black voters. A 2016 study on voter suppression from the University of California, San Diego, found that voter ID laws widen the racial voting gap.

“For Latinos in the general election, the predicted gap from whites doubled from 5.3 points in states without strict photo ID laws to 11.9 in states with strict photo ID laws,” the study found. “The predicted Latino-white gap almost tripled from 5.0 points to 13.3 in primaries. Likewise, for African-Americans, the predicted gap in primaries almost doubled from 4.8 points to 8.5 points.”

But voter suppression and the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act aren’t the only issues Ruffini ignores. He also disregards whether Democrats have met the needs of African-American voters. And to top it off, he may be over blowing what he describes as a “precipitous” drop in Blacks at the polls. According to the Washington Post, African-Americans made up 12 percent of the electorate in 2016. That’s a drop of just 1 percent from 2012, when Obama was up for reelection. So, even if the sheer number of Blacks at the polls wasn’t as high as it was in 2012, the African-American community did turn out to vote in numbers proportional to their share of the electorate and the U.S. population generally.

It’s also worth noting that a broad spectrum of Americans so loathed Trump and Clinton alike that millions showed up to the ballot booth only to skip voting for president. Since the 2016 presidential election, the media has focused on the performance of Democrats in congressional races across the country, casting Black voters as the demographic who can make or break these races. For example, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently ran the following headline for a piece about whether Democrat Jon Osoff could win Georgia’s Sixth District runoff race: “A worry for Jon Ossoff in the Sixth: Will black voters show up?

The authors offer a demographic breakdown of Blacks in the three counties that make up the Sixth District: Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.

“Black voters are most numerous in DeKalb, where they make up 16 percent of that part of the Sixth,” they note. “African-Americans make up 12 percent of voters in the Fulton-Sixth. Sixteen and 12 percent may be small shares, but they’ll be essential if Ossoff is to pull off a victory on June 20.”

In other words, if Osoff loses, African-Americans will be to blame if a lower number of them show up than did to such races during the Obama years. Blacks as a group—94 percent of Black women and 80 percent of Black men—voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. In contrast, whites of all socioeconomic backgrounds backed Trump. Wouldn’t it be logical to focus on Democrats’ efforts to reach out to subgroups of white voters, such as evangelicals, women and seniors? But that would interfere with the press’s routine scapegoating of African-American voters. They’ve been criticized for everything from voting for Obama “just because he’s Black” to living on the Democratic plantation to California’s 2008 gay marriage ban.

As loyal Democrats, Blacks are definitely an influential voting bloc, but the finger pointing at African-Americans when elections don’t turn out a certain way needs to stop. African-Americans remain underwhelmed by how Democrats have responded to police killings of Blacks, groomed leaders of color in their party and their internal hiring practices. When Kamala Harris won her U.S. Senate race last November, she became only the second Black woman to serve in the role and the 10th Black. In December, Senate Democrats faced criticism when it came to light that most of their senior staffers are white. This isn’t a good look, especially when Blacks overall face higher rates of unemployment than other racial groups.

Rather than blaming Blacks for not turning out for Democrats in numbers as high as they did for historic elections in 2008 and 2012, it would be wise for the media to focus on how Democrats are serving the needs of African-Americans. Don’t criticize Blacks for not turning out en masse. Ask what’s in it for them if they do.

By Nadra Nittle/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Natural Hair Bias Is the Latest Tool Being Used to Criminalize Black Girls, Marginalize Black Women

The fight over natural hair is a fight over the right of a people to define their beauty on their own terms. 

In Malden, Mass., the long-simmering argument of how appropriate it is for African-American women to style their hair as they choose hit a new crescendo. In an attempt to, as the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School interim director said, “… promotes equity by focusing on what unites and by reducing visible gaps between those of different means,” the school placed a restriction on hair thickness and extensions that seemed to directly contradict U.S. Department of Justice guidelines on race-based policies.

This policy and its uneven enforcement — the school rarely, for example, punishes students for hair color, another dress-code violation — led to the repeat suspensions of African-American female students. Singled out were Mya and Deanna Cook, who have received more than 16 hours’ detention, were removed from their team sports and banned from their proms — all for having braided hair. This has, since the breaking of this story, led to a letter of condemnation from the state’s Attorney General Office, a lawsuit from the ACLU and the school district suspending the controversial policy.

“The policy specifically prohibits ‘shaved lines or shaved sides’ as examples of drastic or unnatural hairstyles, and ‘hair more than 2 inches in thickness or ‘height’’ as an example of hair that is distracting and thus not allowed,” Genevieve Nadeau, the chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights, wrote.

“These prohibitions appear to specifically reference hairstyles such as ‘fades’ that are commonly worn by Black male students, and ‘afros’ that are most likely to be worn by Black students (both male and female). These styles are not simply fashion choices or trends, but, in addition to occurring naturally in many cases, can be important expressions of racial culture, heritage, and identity.”

Cases such as the one in Mystic Valley seem to go beyond cultural insensitivity and constitute an implicit attack on African-American females’ right to be who they are. A 16-year-old Black student in Montverde, Fla., who happens to have naturally curly hair, was told recently that her hair was a violation of the school’s “no dreadlock” dress-code policy. In 2013, a 12-year-old in Orlando, Fla., was told to either straighten or cut her puffy hair or face expulsion. The student, at the time, was being subjected to bullying by her classmates for her hair.

As profiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, African-American students are more likely to be removed from instruction than their white counterparts for minor infractions such as dress code violations due to implicit bias. In one cited example, Black students in North Carolina public schools were six times more likely to be suspended than white students for dress-code violations. These offenses are, in less-served schools, typically handed over to the police to handle.

This prosecution of Black hair amounts to the criminalization of being African-American. Attacking one class for what would be acceptable with another constitutes not just a mentality that seems to persist and proliferate through miseducation and lack of positive exposure but also an open-ended attack on what it means to be oneself.

“These attacks leave a very dangerous and destructive message,” Carlota Zimmerman, a career and lifestyle coach, said. “To be told by your teachers, adults, by your society that your hair, as it is naturally, is ‘wrong,’ or ‘inappropriate’ for school, that you should change yourself to be deemed worthy to get an education, to get opportunities? We’re sending a terrible message to our Black youths that as they are is wrong. As they are is not fit to be educated, to be valued, to contribute. This message destroys lives since our lives are based on our self-confidence, on our sense of self, our sense of value.”

Black Hair Discrimination

In order to understand this controversy, a few points must be made clear. To start, most women have a natural hair state. Unless descended from specific Native American, Asiatic and Western European ethnicities, most women’s hair — when left to its own volition — will take on a curly, fizzy, wavy or otherwise voluminous state. The 2012 Disney movie “Brave,” for example, took a good deal of flak on social media for showing a Scottish “Disney Princess” with a full mane of frizzy red hair.

Women’s hair care is a multi-billion-dollar global industry. The daily maintenance and personal expense needed to keep hair at a publicly acceptable level are one of the greatest headaches women deal with as part of their daily routine.

“There’s no such thing as ‘wake up and go,’” an uncredited Black woman is reported saying, per Kovie Biakolo. “Whether I wear my hair naturally, curly or straightened via flatiron, making it presentable is a process. When it’s curly, it gets dry very quickly and goes flat after a day or two. I have to re-wet, moisturize, comb and brush almost every day to keep the curls looking healthy and full. When it’s straight, I have to touch up my hair with a flatiron even to wear it in a ponytail. That’s not to mention the process of straightening it in the first place, which is nearly two hours of washing, blow drying and straightening.

“This upkeep doesn’t sound like much, but all this work brings my hair nothing close to white standards of beauty,” she continued. “I fight with and destroy my hair to get it to look as close as possible to a standard I know it will never achieve because it’s just not in its nature. But what’s the alternative?”

While hair struggles are a natural part of being a woman, rarely does this warrant more than odd looks outside the Black experience. While non-conforming hairstyles might be brushed aside as a fashion faux pas or a non-event if done by a non-Black woman, when Black women wear hairstyles that don’t conform to “white standards,” it can lead to job terminations, school suspensions and even arrests.

Take, for example, 2014. On March 31 of that year, the Army announced that it has updated its appearance and grooming policy. The policy, known as AR 670-1, banned cornrows, braids, twists and dreadlocks, arguing that these hairstyles interfere with the fitting of essential equipment, such as combat helmets. This turned out to be ironic, as most of the women affected by this policy chose these hairstyles to reduce the maintenance time needed and to be more “combat-ready.” The policy was overturned shortly thereafter.

Since the inception of the country, Black hair has been linked to negative stereotypes about being African-American. “Hair type rapidly became the real symbolic badge of slavery, although, like many powerful symbols, it was disguised, in this case by the linguistic device of using the term ‘Black,’ which nominally threw the emphasis to color,” Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson wrote in his book “Slavery and Social Death.” “No one who has grown up in a multiracial society, however, is unaware of the fact that hair difference is what carries the real symbolic potency.”

“These attacks on Afrocentric styles and fashions are unfortunately definitely not new. I was speaking to a Black female friend who, in the 1960s, did some modeling with the likes of Richard Roundtree of ‘Shaft’ fame, and she was telling me stories that were interchangeable from today,” Zimmerman added. “Racism has all the time in the world.  I think the difference is nowadays with social media, these attacks are getting far more attention, and also due to social media, more people of color are finding comfort and strength in accepting themselves as they are. So, there’s less tolerance and much more public anger.

The Bias against Natural Hair

In 2016, the Perception Institute conducted an online study into how perceptions of African-American women are influenced by explicit and implicit biases toward their hair. The study was inspired in part by SheaMoisture’s 2016 “Break the Walls” campaign, which challenged retailers’ traditional position of separating hair products by race, with nonwhite products being delegated to the “ethnic” section. By segregating products meant for women of color, there may be a subliminal message that ethnic hair is somehow different from “normal hair.”

To test this, the Perception Institute tested users for implicit and explicit biases by showing photos of a single model wearing both straight and “natural” wigs and asking what words and phrases come to mind when they see the photos.

The study found:

  • Black women that consider themselves naturalistas are the most positive about textured or natural hair, seeing it as “beautiful,” “sexy” and “professional” at a greater amount than any other population, including other Black women;
  • Black women remain sensitive of social stigma surrounding textured hair;
  • Millennials are more accepting of natural hair than any other women in the sample;
  • Black women are more anxious about their hair than White women;
  • Ruining their hair is the excuse for a third of all surveyed Black women skipping exercise;
  • Twice the number of Black women feel pressured to straighten their hair for work than white women;
  • Black women invest more time-wise and in actual expense in their hair than white women; and
  • White women are more likely to be explicitly biased against Black hair compared to “smooth” hair, finding it to be “less attractive,” “less beautiful’ and “less professional.”

“It is curious that the study found millennials to be the most accommodating to textured hair,” Alexis McGill Johnson, the executive director of the Perception Institute, said. “This is significant because even if most of us would say that an afro is beautiful to a survey, we’ve taken in so many social cues about hair that it is hard to escape media about it. These millennials have been involved in online communities, replacing the cultural knowledge we have lost in the decades we have been straightening our hair and creating reaffirming images that helped replace the negative schemas.”

The Enemy in the Mirror

The bottom line with hair bias is that, for many, it is veiled racism. Textured hair reminds the prejudiced viewer of Black culture and draws an unthinking reaction. There may be no convenient solution to implicit racism except to expose it at every opportunity.

There is another component to hair bias, however, which could be combatted. To illustrate this, let us take, for example, the former first lady Michelle Obama. When she entered the White House, she had heavily processed “smooth” hair. To the casual viewer, she met the visual expectation of a successful, professional Black woman — well coifed, well dressed and well spoken. When, while on vacation, she allowed her hair to go natural, the criticism she received, despite changing nothing else of her public persona, was severe.

This is even more shocking in retrospect considering she has been seen wearing her hair naturally more often, to the Internet’s acclaim, since leaving the White House.

Since the time of slavery, natural, “nappy” hair was seen as being more undesirable than hair that mirrors Eurocentric styles. Unprocessed, non-straight hair suggested the person was uncivilized, uneducated or somehow dangerous. To be accepted, African-American women (and men) not only subjected themselves to hot combs, lye-based hair treatments and a host of other hazardous treatments, but they also taught their daughters to do the same. This is reflected in the oft-repeated unwritten rule, “Straighten your hair for the interview, wear it natural once you are through the door.”

This notion that success and beauty are connected to straight hair still proliferates in the media. Many of the role models for African-American women have chemically processed straight hair because it is what they were told was needed to be taken seriously. Entire generation – both white and Black – have seen the allegedly most successful and socially acceptable among Black women wear their hair straight and formed an association between straight hair and Black success and Black beauty. This is how implicit bias is born.

As pointed out in the article Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, various African tribes adapted elaborate hair braiding patterns as a messaging and identification schema as early as the 15th century. One of the ways slavers would break newly captured enslaved women of their identities was to shave their heads.

By Frederick Reese/AtlantaBlackStar

posted by The NON-Conformist

 

‘Blackface’ at Sochi Confed Cup football carnival ‘bitter misunderstanding,’ not racism – mayor

‘Blackface’ at Sochi Confed Cup football carnival ‘bitter misunderstanding,’ not racism – mayor

Mississippi Accused of Unequal Schooling for Black Students

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Image: Think Progress

Mississippi’s leaders are being sued again over school funding, this time by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of four black public school students.

Mississippi is violating the federal law that enabled the state to rejoin the union after the Civil War, a civil rights group alleged Tuesday in a lawsuit over school funding.

The lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of four African-American mothers with children in public elementary schools asks a federal judge to force the state’s leaders to comply with the 1870 law, which says Mississippi must never deprive any citizen of the “school rights and privileges” described in its 1868 constitution.

That law still obligates Mississippi to provide a “uniform system of free public schools” for all children, the SPLC said. Instead, Mississippi has repeatedly watered down education protections in its first post-Civil War constitution ever since, as part of what the lawsuit calls a white supremacist effort to prevent the education of blacks.

“From 1890 until the present day, Mississippi repeatedly has amended its education clause and has used those amendments to systematically and deliberately deprive African Americans of the education rights guaranteed to all Mississippi schoolchildren by the 1868 Constitution,” the suit states.

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Posted by Libergirl…a product of those segregated Mississippi schools

Fatal Stabbing of Black Student at University of Maryland Investigated as Possible Hate Crime

The FBI is helping to evaluate whether the fatal stabbing by a white student of a black student visiting the University of Maryland will be prosecuted as a hate crime, university police said Sunday.

Richard Wilbur Collins III was with two friends on the university’s campus in College Park when he was approached by a man and stabbed in the chest with a knife Saturday morning, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell told reporters.

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Image: twitter

The 23-year-old had been commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army two days before his death and had been set to graduate from Bowie State University (BSU) on Tuesday in a ceremony at Maryland, Mitchell said.

The University of Maryland student suspected of Collins’s killing was a member of a Facebook group named Alt Reich, Mitchell said.

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Posted by Libergirl