Recent Articles

Many U.S. newsrooms still lack diversity

Bryant K. Smith

Blacks in recent months have been negatively portrayed in news reports locally and nationally, whether as criminal or victim. “It is open season on Blacks and other minorities’ images and identities,” noted author and consultant Bryant K. Smith. Such media portrayals “fit a certain societal norm,” he added.

Smith regularly speaks on the power of media in shaping and promoting negative images of Blacks and other people of color. He spoke in October at Winona State University on “Media Management of Minority Images.”

During an MSR phone interview, Smith pointed out that this open season isn’t restricted to U.S. media but is a universal practice, calling it “a global supremacist type of view. If you are trying to convince people around the world that a group of people are inherently bad…every time one member of the group acts up, they find a way to connect the entire group.”
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Students challenge who defines U of M diversity

President declines invite to meet off-campus

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Whose Diversity? is a diverse “collective” of University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students who came together at the beginning of the year to argue against what they call a “cosmetic” commitment to diversity at the school. After they presented a list of “diversity demands” to President Eric Kaler, the group was featured in an MSR June front page story (“Student group presents ‘diversity demands’ to U of M officials: ‘Whose Diversity?’ resists cooptation, wants more than ‘sprinkling a few faces of color in catalogues,’” June 12, 2014),

After a December 1 meeting last week with Kaler and the group at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a University statement emailed to the MSR said, “The meeting was productive. We look forward to working with all students, faculty and staff as we continue to address the important issues affecting campus climate.”

Group members, however, say they will “push” Kaler and other school administrators to do more. “I want to believe [Kaler] is sincere,” said Tanja Andie, a U of M sociology graduate student who was among the dozen Whose Diversity? Continue Reading →

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Mpls pursues a Racial Equity Action Plan

By Brandi Phillips
Contributing Writer


Led by 8th Ward Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a Racial Equity Action Plan for the City is in the planning and formation stages. It is expected to be implemented by a Racial Equity Action Plan Committee that Glidden hopes will be comprised of community members, city council members,and various city departments such as the police and fire department. The Racial Equity Action Plan is intended as a well-thought-out approach to the goal of racial equity. The Racial Equity Action Plan Committee will be defining the term “racial equity” as well as setting goals based on the definition. In 2012, the City of Minneapolis initiated a Climate Action Plan that, according to the City’s website, provides a roadmap to guide Minneapolis towards greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Continue Reading →

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Annual reporting on Twins’ lack of diversity grows tiresome

I’ve held off long enough, but it’s that time again to write about the results of Dr. Richard Lapchick’s annual report cards on the pro leagues’ diversity efforts. The other print media use the fewest possible words to mention these Racial and Gender Report Cards (RGRC) on their sports pages because it doesn’t matter to them if diversity is achieved or not, especially when their own workplaces aren’t that diverse. It’s not like I don’t want to, but annual reporting on the snail-like progress the local pro teams have made on diversity over the years hasn’t much changed. In the Twin Cities, the diversity axiom isn’t how some things change and some remain the same, but rather nothing changes but the year. It’s like the teacher who practices social promotion every year — although the student doesn’t deserve it, they have another class coming in. Continue Reading →

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Cable networks using Black sitcoms to draw more viewers



By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

According to Nielsen, Blacks watch almost 40 percent more television than any other group. As a result, Black-themed sitcoms and reality shows seemingly are now hot properties on cable. But not on just BET, TV One and Centric, three Black-oriented channels, but several mainstream outlets as well: TV Land has The Soul Man. Nick at Nite has Instant Mom. Tyler Perry’s House of Payne has been on TBS since 2007, and Meet the Browns debuted on the same channel two years later in 2009. Continue Reading →

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Despite its success, AfroPoP series still faces challenges



By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer


AfroPoP, the successful public television program that shows independent films and documentaries “on contemporary life, art and pop culture across the African Diaspora” is now in its sixth season. “If you would have told me that we were going to have six seasons, I probably would’ve said, ‘I need to get through this first one, I can’t think that far ahead,” jokes Co-Executive Producer Leslie Fields-Cruz.  She also is National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) vice president of operations and director of programming. The NBPC was founded in 1979. AfroPoP is produced by NBPC and co-presented by American Public Television (APT), and shown on the PBS World channel.  Beginning in February, however APT will distribute AfroPoP to additional public television

stations. As a result, TPT Life Channel 2.3 now airs the program on Saturday nights (check local listings for times). Continue Reading →

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Few acting roles for Black females




By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

Final installment of a four-part series

12 Years a Slave made five out of nine top-10 films of 2013 lists by movie critics, and Fruitvale Station made two such lists; these two movies featured Black males as leads.  However, only two Black females — Halle Berry (The Call, Sony Pictures) and Paula Patton (Baggage Claim, Fox Searchlight) — were leads in movies released by major Hollywood studios in 2013. “Critics don’t look at a film and notice that every one of the lead roles is White,” Uptown Magazine Editor Ronda Racha Penrice said in an October CNN.com article. A UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies released the “Hollywood Diversity Brief” in October and it stated that there is “a dearth of gender, racial and ethnic diversity in film and television — both in front of and behind the camera.”

Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow) and Kerry Washington (Scandal) are the only Black female leads on prime time network television this season. “I’m 5’1 and an African American woman. I just didn’t think anyone would have me to play the cop,” said Beharie of her character in an Essence magazine interview. Continue Reading →

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Just the facts! A lack of diversity in Minnesota sports

I hope you had a great Christmas. This time of year grips me like you cannot imagine. It’s a time of joy and reflection. I have taken to social media at FitzBeatSr., my Twitter handle. No Facebook for me. Continue Reading →

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New Gophers AD says increasing diversity is ‘high on my radar screen’


Has the role of today’s big-time college athletic director changed? We recently put that question to Norwood Teague, who was hired in April to succeed Joel Maturi as University of Minnesota athletics director. “It’s multi-faceted,” explained Teague, formerly the AD at VCU for the past six years, on his new job. “You have to be very cognizant of a lot of different areas.”

Even more so today, the athletic director is more CEO than cheerleader. “[College sports] has become a bigger business and a larger operation. Continue Reading →

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