Posts tagged with "Black Lives Matter"

Trump defends Confederate flag in latest appeal to white voters

July 7, 2020

President Donald Trump—who posted a video of one of his supporters whooping the phrase, “White Power,” just last week on Twitter—spent Monday morning, July 6, bashing NASCAR’s decision to prohibit Confederate flags at its races; while also falsely asserting that a top Black driver, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, had engaged in a hoax involving a noose found in his garage stall.

Trump’s reference to the Confederate flag—and its role in a sport followed by the mostly white fans among whom the president remains popular—was “the latest remark by the president as he tries to rally his culturally conservative base behind his struggling re-election effort,” The New York Times reported.

While NASCAR and other organizations have moved to retire symbols of the Confederacy, and lawmakers in Mississippi voted to bring down the state flag featuring the Confederate emblem, Trump has increasingly used racist language and references to portray himself as a protector of the history of the American South. He has called the phrase “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate,” and he has repeatedly tried to depict pockets of violence during protests against entrenched racism as representative of the protest movement as a whole.

The president also delivered official speeches over the weekend that also emphasized defending American heritage, although he avoided explicit references to totems of the Confederacy.

“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter on Monday.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina and a friend of the president, departed from his usual praise on Monday, saying that he disagreed with Trump’s tweet.

“They’re trying to grow the sport,” Graham said, according to the CNN reporter Manu Raju, referring to NASCAR’s ban on confederate flags, which it announced last month. “And I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life and if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business.”

Graham, who is facing a strong challenge from Jaime Harrison, a Black Democrat, in his re-election bid, according to the Times, said that “one way you grow the sport is you take images that divide us and ask that they not be brought into the venue. That makes sense to me.” He said that Mr. Wallace does not have “anything to apologize for,” and that his fellow drivers should be applauded for supporting him.

“I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax,” Graham said, according to Mr. Raju.

The noose incident last month at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama came to an end after  F.B.I. officials, who were called in by NASCAR, found that the knot had been tied into the rope as early as October 2019, well before anyone would have known that Mr. Wallace would be assigned that stall for the race.

Another NASCAR driver, Tyler Reddick, replied to Trump on Twitter Monday, saying, “We don’t need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support.”

According to the Times, Trump’s tweet came just days after he delivered a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota as part of the July 4 holiday, in which he denounced Democrats as radical anarchists and said that children are taught in schools to “hate” the United States.

“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” the presient said in what was clearly a campaign speech.

Research contact: @nytimes

American freedom is not just celebrated on July 4: Here’s what you need to know about Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

It’s a day that celebrates and commemorates the true meaning of America—freedom, equality, and justice for all—and it will be observed with jubilation this year, as U.S. citizens nationwide continue to hit the streets to insist that Black Lives Matter.

It’s called Juneteenth and, over 150 years later, it will be observed by more Americans than ever before on Friday, June 19, ABC News reports.

American history lessons generally teach that when President Abraham Lincoln went public with the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862—three days after Union troops halted the advance of Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee near Sharpsburg, Maryland in the Battle of Antietam—it ended the Civil War and slavery.

But it took another 30 months and 19 days for the order to be carried out in Galveston, Texas—the last municipality in the United States where African Americans were still enslaved.

Texas was one of the seven Confederate States of America, and even when Lincoln’s executive order was enacted on January 1, 1863, “they weren’t going to recognize that anyway,” Dwayne Jones, executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation, recently told ABC News.

“In fact, there were slave owners who moved from parts of the South, from slave states, to continue the practice of slavery in Texas because they knew they could practice there for a longer time without interruption,” Kelly E. Navies, a museum specialist and oral historian with the National Museum of African American History and Culture confirmed to the network in an interview.

Jones said that when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with a force of 2,000 Union troops dressed in red to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, it was “very significant.”

During the church-oriented event, a hog was roasted as songs filled the air in between readings of the proclamation.

A combination of the month and date of Granger’s arrival in Galveston transformed the holiday into the name it’s been known as for over 100 years: Juneteenth.

“The celebration of Juneteenth gives people a chance to pause and think about the history behind what we are going through right now,” said Navies. “It gives people the opportunity to ask themselves what are the root causes to the racial conflicts we are experiencing.”

Observances of Juneteenth have generally become more secular, but the tradition remains as celebrations have expanded to cities including BuffaloKansas City,  and Chicagoand this year, will also be seen in New York State and others nationwide due to the success of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional in-person Juneteenth gatherings have been scheduled to take place through livestreaming services like Facebook Live and Zoom, ABC News reports.

The police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 and the protests that followed have generated an increased interest in the history of Juneteenth.

“We thought for the 150th anniversary five years ago, we would have gotten more attention, but it really took, unfortunately, other events in order to bring attention to it,” said Jones.

Research contact: @ABC

Colin Kaepernick joins Medium as board member, and contributor on civil rights and race issues

June 19, 2020

Former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick will join the board of the blogging platform Medium, CEO Ev Williams announced on Thursday, June 18.

“In addition to the board seat, Medium will partner with Colin and Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America, and to elevate emerging voices from communities of color,” Williams said.

Specifically, the former San Francisco 49ers QB will write stories based on interviews with high profile leaders, activists, and athletes. He also will write and work with the editorial leadership of Level, Medium’s publication for black and brown men; and of and Momentum, a new blog on Medium about fighting anti-black racism.

Indeed, Williams said, he has known Kaepernick for some time and has envisioned a successful partnership. The Medium CEO said, “I met Colin a couple years ago and have been wanting to work with him ever since. When he launched Kaepernick Publishing in February, we started a conversation and quickly realized how closely our ideals and sensibilities align. I know he will bring valuable insights and leadership to Medium, especially in this moment when the world is finally catching up to his vision on racial justice.”

According to a report by Axios, Kaepernick sparked years of controversy when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and oppression in 2016. NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell recently told ESPN  that the league should have better listened to players who protested.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Gooddell said. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter.”

Now, Williams says, “Kaepernick Publishing’s mission is to uplift and elevate voices for Black and Brown communities, something that has been desperately needed in the publishing space. Through this partnership, Colin will be publishing across Medium’s platform …. He will be sharing his thoughts on anti-Black racism in our society, and Medium; and Kaepernick Publishing will co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color.”

He summed it up by describing Kaepernick as “an incisive, independent thinker, whose integrity has inspired so many,” and noting that, “The world needs more of that.”

Research contact: @Medium

Aunt Jemima brand to change name and image over ‘racial stereotype’

June 18, 2020

In the spirit of Black Lives Matter, Quaker Oats—the manufacturer of the syrup and pancake brand, Aunt Jemima, has acknowledged that the brand’s origins were “based on a racial stereotype.” The company now intends to change the name and image on its packaging, The New York Times reports.

The brand, founded in 1889, is built on images of a black female character that often been have been seen as a symbol of slavery. Aunt Jemima has gone through several redesigns; pearl earrings and a lace collar were added in 1989.

On Wednesday, Quaker Oats, which is owned by PepsiCo, said that it was taking “a hard look at our portfolio of brands” as it works “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives.”

The packaging changes, which were first reported by NBC, will begin to appear toward the end of this year, with the name change coming soon after.

“Whle work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough,” said Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

The Aunt Jemima brand was inspired by a minstrel song called “Old Aunt Jemima” and was once described by Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African-American literature at Cornell University, as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the ‘mammy,’ a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.”

Last week, the glorified depiction of slavery in “Gone With the Wind,” which included a portrayal of an affable black character named Mammy, led HBO Max to temporarily remove the film from its catalog–before bringing it back with an explanatory forward, the Times notes.

Quaker Oats said in its statement that Aunt Jemima’s marketing had “evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families,” but that it would gather more perspectives internally and from the black community to further shape the brand.

Research contact: @nytimes

Going viral: Bride and groom pose for photos in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters

June 10, 2020

In the midst of the ongoing anti-racism protests around the world, one couple’s empowering wedding photos—taken at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Philadelphia—have gone viral, The Huffington Post reports.

Bride Kerry Anne and groom Michael Gordon tied the knot in an intimate ceremony at the Logan Hotel on Saturday, June 6. Hotel staff had informed the couple days earlier that a protest was set for their wedding date, but they decided to go ahead with their plans.

As the couple was preparing to do their “first look” outside the hotel, demonstrators gathered to cheer them on, which made for a truly powerful moment. Photographer Linda McQueen captured the couple raising their fists in the heart of the downtown Philadelphia protest.

“I come running around the corner and I see Kerry standing with a circle of people around her just cheering, and she’s literally standing there looking like a Black princess. That’s all I see,” the groom told Vogue, which also is carrying the story. “These peaceful protesters, positive energy, cheering, yelling, people with their phones out taking pictures and videos.”

“And Kerry’s just standing there looking beautiful as can be,” Michael continued. “And I walked up to her and took her hand, and she was shaking. The energy and passion and moment, everything that was going on, was just blowing through her.”

Celebrating this milestone in their relationship during such a pivotal moment in history, was “empowering,” the bride—an OB-GYN who’s originally from Jamaica — told ABC News.

Not only are we feeling the movement of the people … but I’m meeting my husband, on our wedding day, as a strong Black man and a good representative of who we are as people, what our men are like, what our culture is like,” Kerry Anne Gordon said. “It was just a very, very empowering moment for us considering all of this is happening at one moment in one time.”

Initially, the couple had planned to get married in May, but had to postpone due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to their small, socially distanced ceremony this weekend, they plan to do a larger celebration with extended family and friends in 2021.

Face masks and hand sanitizer were provided to guests, who were encouraged to wear white.  To see more photos of the couple’s memorable wedding day, head over to Vogue.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Romney is first Republican in Senate to break ranks, march with DC protesters

June 9, 2020

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah marched with demonstrators toward the White House on Sunday, June 7—the first Republican senator to join the thousands across the country protesting the death of George Floyd while in police custody, The New York Times reported.

Romney, who marched with a group of Christians, told a Washington Post reporter that he had joined the protest to show that “… we need to end violence and brutality, and to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.”

In joining the protest, Mr. Romney again found himself at odds with President Donald Trump, who has pushed for a military response to the unrest. He also has  distanced himself from most of his party, as when he became the sole Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office, the Times notes.

But not the only U.S. legislator: Last week, Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the lone black Republican in the House, joined a peaceful protest, marching alongside Floyd’s family.

Democrats, by contrast, have made a point of supporting and participating in the rallies. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) was hit by pepper spray during a demonstration in her state late last month, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) made a trip last week to briefly speak to protesters gathered outside the Capitol.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) was seen on Saturday handing out water bottles to protesters marching through Washington, while Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) attended a protest and handed out masks to people walking by.

The visibility of politicians at the protests “does matter to a degree,” Vania Brown, a protester from Maryland who had come to join the marches in Washington on Sunday, told the Times. “But right now, I’m skeptical of any political party.”

The civil unrest around the country, coupled with renewed calls to address police brutality against people of color, has amplified pressure on lawmakers—particularly Republicans—to address not only police officers’ use of force; but also racial discrimination, and the economic and social disparities that the coronavirus pandemic has further exposed.

According to the Times report, Democrats were expected on Monday to unveil sweeping legislation that would make it easier to prosecute police misconduct and recover damages from officers found to have violated civil rights.

In the coming weeks, the Senate and the House both plan to hold hearings on proposals to improve policing and counter racial discrimination.

Compared with previous instances in which black men have died after police officers have used excessive force, Republicans have been almost uniformly outraged at the case of Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The administration’s move to crack down on demonstrators prompted a rare break with President Trump, the Times said, as some Republicans moved to distance themselves from the president’s threats to send the military to confront protesters. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) went so far as to endorse scathing criticism from Jim Mattis, the former defense secretary, of Trump’s handling of the protests.

Among Republicans, Romney in particular has been vocal in condemning the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death, saying last month that “the George Floyd murder is abhorrent.”

He has also reflected on how his father, George Romney, participated in a civil rights march in the 1960s as governor of Michigan, quoting him on Twitter and sharing a photo of him at the protest in the 1960s in Detroit.

“Force alone will not eliminate riots,” Senator Romney quoted his father saying. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump retreats into White House bunker as protests rage

June 2, 2020

Unlike ill-fated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy—who in 1968 famously took to the Detroit streets to calm mobs after the assassination of Martin Luther King—(or even current Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who took to the streets of Delaware over the weekend); President Donald Trump has retreated from public appearances as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” protesters fill the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities nationwide.

Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a White House bunker on Friday night, May 29, as hundreds of protesters of all creeds and colors gathered outside the executive mansion—some of them throwing rocks and heaving police barricades, The Washington Post reports.

Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies such as terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who spoke with the news outlet on the condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to the Post, “The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House—where the chants from protesters in Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend; and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds.”

Friday’s protests were triggered by the alleged murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by white Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

The demonstrations in Washington turned violent and appeared to catch officers by surprise. Indeed, the news outlet reports, they sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the September. 11 attacks in 2001.

Ultimately, 50 Secret Service agents were rumored to have been injured during the protests at the White House.

“The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. The Secret Service said it does not discuss the means and methods of its protective operations. The president’s move to the bunker was first reported by The New York Times.

The president and his family have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds, according to the Republican. It was not immediately clear if first lady Melania Trump and the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barron, joined the president in the bunker. Secret Service protocol would have called for all those under the agency’s protection to be in the underground shelter.

Trump did not appear in public on Sunday. Instead, a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the plans ahead of time said Trump was expected in the coming days to speak to the American public.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Creating change: If 25% believe, the rest will go along

June 12, 2018

When the size of a minority committed to social change—such as the Me Too movement or Black Lives Matter or March for Our Lives—reaches 25%, that’s a tipping point for transition and transformation in the large public, based on findings of a study conducted by Annenberg School for Communication researcher Damon Centola and released on June 7.

The study, just published in the journal, Science, answers the question, “When organizations turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace, how many people need to take a stand before the behavior is no longer seen as normal ?”

“The classical model,” Centola says, “would dictate that 51% or more is needed to initiate real social change. We found, both theoretically and experimentally, that a much smaller fraction of the population can effectively do this.”

This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace, and any type of movement or initiative, Centola believes.

Online, people develop norms about everything from what type of content is acceptable to post on social media to how civil or uncivil to be in their language. We have recently seen how public attitudes can and do shift on issues like gay marriage, gun laws, or race and gender  equality, as well as what beliefs are or aren’t publicly acceptable to voice.

During the past 50 years, many studies of organizations and community change have attempted to identify the critical size needed for a tipping point, purely based on observation. These studies have speculated such tipping points can range anywhere between 10% to 40%.

Drawing on more than a decade of experimental work, Centola and his three research associates developed 10 groups of 20 participant—each of whom was given a financial incentive to agree on a linguistic norm. Once a norm had been established, a group of confederates—a coalition of activists that varied in size—then pushed for a change to the norm.

When a minority group pushing change was below 25% of the total group, its efforts failed. But when the committed minority reached 25%, there was an abrupt change in the group dynamic, and quickly a majority of the population adopted the new norm. In one trial, a single person accounted for the difference between success and failure.

The researchers also tested the strength of their results by increasing the payments people received for adhering to the prevailing norm. Despite Centola and his colleagues doubling and tripling the amount of money for sticking with an established behavior, a minority group could still overturn the group norm, the researchers found.

“When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this,” says Centola, who also directs Annenberg’s Network Dynamics Group. “And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.

The implications for large-scale behavior change are the subject of Centola’s new book, How Behavior Spreads, published this month by Princeton University Press.

Research contact: dcentola@asc.upenn.edu

Trump cancels ceremony for Super Bowl champs

June 6, 2018

At the last minute, President Donald Trump cancelled an invitation to the Philadelphia Eagles to attend a June 5 ceremony at the White House that would have honored the team’s Super Bowl victory—and in the process, ramped up his war of words against the NFL players’ Black Lives Matter protest spewed, Mic reported yesterday.

Trump disinvited the team after just a handful of players said they were planning to attend. He then said the revoked invitation was due to the team’s refusal to follow his demand to “proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

“The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!” Trump tweeted Monday night.

However, Mic reported, no players on the Eagles kneeled in protest of police violence during the 2017-2018 season, something players on the team pointed out.

Even Conservatives were outraged, the news outlet noted. “The attempt to make the Eagles event cancellation about the national anthem is just a complete act of deceitful propaganda and conservatives should have zero to do with it,” Jonah Goldberg, a writer for the conservative outlet National Review, tweeted. “If that was the issue, why schedule the event in the first place? Also: None of them kneeled. Shameful.”

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was part of the Eagles winning squad, tweeted back at the president over his statement. “So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump “insists” folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military”

In fact, Mic reported, Smith outlined in February — after the team won the championship — why he didn’t plan to attend a future celebration at the White House. “For me, it’s not just about politics,” Smith said at the time. “If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist or has no respect for women or I told you that this individual has said offensive things toward minority groups…this individual also called my peers and friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party. Why is it any different when the person has the title of president of the United States?”

Long and tight end Zach Ertz used social media to challenge Fox News for its use Tuesday morning of footage of Eagles players praying before games during a segment about protests during the national anthem.“This can’t be serious,” Ertz wrote on Twitter. “Praying before games with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?! Just sad, I feel like you guys should have to be better than this….”

Fox later apologized for the misleading footage, the Mic story said.

However, the White House Office of the Press Secretary said that the fans “deserve better” in a formal statement from the president. The administration invited the fans to attend, anyway, noting that they would “… be part of a different type of ceremony—one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”

Meanwhile, the NFL has introduced a new policy for its players this season that enables them to protest—or “take a knee”—by staying in the clubhouse instead of appearing on the field during the national anthem.  Any player who kneels on the field risks incurring fines for his team.

The policy has the backing of 53% of U.S. adults, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, while 32 % said they opposed the move, and 15 percent said they didn’t know or had no opinion. The poll surveyed 2,201 U.S. adults from May 23-29 and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

In the May poll, 83% of Republicans and 47% of Independents said they opposed NFL players kneeling during the national anthem before the start of football games. Last September, 77% percent of Republicans and 43% of Independents said they opposed the kneeling.

Among Democrats, opposition to the protests stayed about the same compared to September: 25% in May and 22% in the earlier poll.

Research contact:  jyuan@politico.com