Was the dean of a Texas journalism school on her morning walk caught "walking while black"?
Or is she drawing racial implications where none exist?
Dorothy Bland, dean of the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, believes the former and wrote a column Wednesday to that effect, updated Monday, for the Dallas Morning News.
The police chief in Corinth, Texas, a city 25 miles northwest of Dallas where the incident took place, disagrees. So does James Ragland, an African American columnist at the Morning News. But both sides have supporters.
On the Morning News Facebook page, one of several where the issue was discussed, the dashcam video of the encounter had drawn 2.4k comments, 2,653 "likes" and 10,924 shares by Monday evening.
Since publication, Jenna Duncan wrote Friday for the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle, "the story has gained steam with conservative blogs, and more than 100 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for Bland to be removed from her post. By Monday night, the figure had risen to 1,159.
Bland wrote Wednesday for the Morning News, "Flashing lights and sirens from a police vehicle interrupted a routine Saturday morning walk in my golf-course community in Corinth.
"I often walk about 3 miles near daybreak as part of my daily exercise. However, on Oct. 24, I delayed my walk until late morning as I waited for the rain to stop. I was dressed in a gray hooded 'Boston' sweatshirt, black leggings, white socks, plus black-and-white Nike running shoes. Like most African-Americans, I am familiar with the phrase 'driving while black,' but was I really being stopped for walking on the street in my own neighborhood?
"Yes. In the words of Sal Ruibal, 'Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions. May God have mercy on our nation.'
"Knowing that the police officers are typically armed with guns and are a lot bigger than my 5 feet, 4 inches, I had no interest in my life's story playing out like Trayvon Martin's death. I stopped and asked the two officers if there was a problem; I don't remember getting a decent answer before one of the officers asked me where I lived and for identification. . . ."
Duncan also wrote, "Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall said that since Bland's and her opinions were published, the two women have talked about Bland's experience.
" 'She said that she was ready to let this go,' Walthall said of Bland. 'She had said her piece in the paper, and we had a small discussion about how things could have been different if she contacted the police department first.' . . ."
Ragland was among those responding, writing Friday, "Two words come to mind when I watch what happened to Dorothy Bland: broken trust.
"In a two-minute video that potentially could escalate tension between police and minorities, Bland, a University of North Texas college dean, is stopped and questioned because she's walking in the road – specifically, a residential street in the neighborhood where she lives.
"The fact that Bland got so upset over the perfunctory stop, particularly questions about where she lived, points up the frayed bond between police and ethnic minorities in America.
"But it also reflects a hypersensitivity that, left unchecked, makes it difficult to ever bridge that divide; and, more importantly, it undercuts the impact of incidents in which there are real problems, not perceived or petty ones. . . ."
Leona Allen, Dallas Morning News: UNT dean guilty of "walking while black?"
Samra Bufkins, Dallas Morning News: Another perspective on 'walking while different'
Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News: Corinth police stop: Another video, another Rorschach test
Ron Kirk, Dallas Morning News: Q&A: Former Dallas mayor criticizes race claims in Dorothy Bland case
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: What we should learn from viral police videos
In an two-part interview with novelist Marilynne Robinson in the New York Review of Books, President Obama says that Americans are reading material that reinforces their existing points of view and that the pace of the news cycle has led to an emphasis on the sensational that creates "a pessimism about the country."
"Part of the challenge is — and I see this in our politics — is a common conversation," Obama says in an exchange in the Nov. 19 report. "It's not so much, I think, that people don't read at all; it's that everybody is reading [in] their niche, and so often, at least in the media, they’re reading stuff that reinforces their existing point of view. And so you don't have that phenomenon of here's a set of great books that everybody is familiar with and everybody is talking about.
"Sometimes you get some TV shows that fill that void, but increasingly now, that's splintered, too, so other than the Super Bowl, we don't have a lot of common reference points. And you can argue that that's part of the reason why our politics has gotten so polarized, is that — when I was growing up, if the president spoke to the country, there were three stations and every city had its own newspaper and they were going to cover that story. And that would last for a couple of weeks, people talking about what the president had talked about.
"Today, my poor press team, they're tweeting every two minutes because some new thing has happened, which then puts a premium on the sensational and the most outrageous or a conflict as a way of getting attention and breaking through the noise — which then creates, I believe, a pessimism about the country because all those quiet, sturdy voices that we were talking about at the beginning, they're not heard.
"It's not interesting to hear a story about some good people in some quiet place that did something sensible and figured out how to get along. . . ."
"A source of optimism — I took my girls to see Hamilton, this new musical on Broadway, which you should see," President Obama told novelist Marilynne Robinson in their September interview, published this month in the New York Review of Books. "Because this wonderful young Latino playwright produced this play, musical, about Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers. And it's all in rap and hip-hop. And it's all played by young African-American and Latino actors.
"And it sounds initially like it would not work at all. And it is brilliant, and so much so that I'm pretty sure this is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I have agreed on — during my entire political career — it speaks to this vibrancy of American democracy, but also the fact that it was made by these living, breathing, flawed individuals who were brilliant. We haven't seen a collection of that much smarts and chutzpah and character in any other nation in history, I think.
"But what's most important about [Hamilton] and why I think it has received so many accolades is it makes it live. It doesn't feel distant. And it doesn't feel set apart from the arguments that we're having today.
"And Michelle and I, when we went to see it, the first thing we thought about was what could we do to encourage this kind of creativity in teaching history to our kids. Because, look, America is famously ahistorical. That's one of our strengths — we forget things. You go to other countries, they’re still having arguments from four hundred years ago, and with serious consequences, right? They're bloody arguments. In the Middle East right now, you've got arguments dating back to the seventh century that are live today. And we tend to forget that stuff. We don't sometimes even remember what happened two weeks ago.
"But this point you made about us caring enough about the blood, sweat, and tears involved in maintaining a democracy is vital and important. But it also is the reason why I think those who have much more of an 'us' versus 'them,' fearful, conspiratorial brand of politics can thrive sometimes is because they can ignore that history.
"If, in fact, you don't know much about the evolution of slavery and the civil rights movement and the Civil War and the postwar amendments, then the arguments that are being had now about how our criminal justice system interacts with African-Americans seem pretty foreign. It's like, what are the issues here? If you're not paying attention to how Jefferson and Madison and Franklin and others were thinking about the separation of church and state, then you're not that worried about keeping those lines separate. . . ."
Lester Holt, "NBC Nightly News": Obama: 'We See Disparities in How White, Black, Hispanic Suspects Are Treated' (video)
"The format and content of upcoming Republican debates became increasingly uncertain on Monday after Donald Trump’s campaign said the real estate mogul would negotiate his terms directly with television executives instead of as part of a joint effort with his rivals," Robert Costa, David Weigel and Paul Farhi reported Monday for the Washington Post.
"The move by Trump, coming just hours after his and other campaigns huddled in a Washington suburb to craft a three-page letter of possible demands, thwarts an effort to find consensus after what most candidates agreed was a debacle hosted by CNBC last week.
"As a celebrity billionaire who has been a leading factor in drawing record ratings, Trump has little interest in working to promote the wishes of his opponents, his allies said.
"The maneuvering by Trump and the other Republican candidates was met with annoyance by network executives, who said they have little interest in altering a process they believe was settled months ago.
“ 'We agreed to this and now you're saying you're not agreeing?' said one executive who was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly.
" 'Do you want Ben Carson deciding who your moderators are? The answer is no,' said another. 'Do you want Bobby Jindal's campaign dictating how the debates will be run when Bobby Jindal may not even be in the race much longer?'
"The consternation marked the latest turn in a debate process that has grown more problematic by the day. . . ."
Marcus Brauchli, vox.com: The CNBC debate was an ugly, raucous mess. We need more just like it.
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: RNC Seeks Online Denunciation of CNBC
Cristina Marcos, the Hill: Hispanic lawmakers urge NBC to disinvite Trump from 'SNL'
David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun: Money changes everything in TV debates
Why leave Washington Post management for an ESPN startup?
Kevin Merida, whose tenure as a managing editor of the Washington Post ended Sunday with a new role about to begin as editor in chief of The Undefeated, ESPN's digital project about the intersection of sports, race and culture, said Sunday that the Post and ESPN are two different companies with "a lot of different resources."
ESPN is owned by Disney, "a big company" with movie studios and ABC television, and "lots of ways to integrate and develop projects that don't currently exist."
Merida told a brunch meeting of the Journalists Roundtable in Washington that he hoped the audience for the site would be wide, but noted there was "a lot of history that hasn't been unearthed and mined." He said he wants a "really diverse, eclectic site." Merida was similarly receptive to a suggestion about covering fandom and the economics of sports, and said book excerpts or serializations and book reviews were already on his list.
Merida said he was planning for The Undefeated "to show the range and complexity of our lives and the lives of black athletes." He listed films, poetry, music, symposiums, gaming and social media as ways to build a community and following for the site. Merida is to remain in Washington in his new role.
Milton Coleman, ombudsman at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and former senior editor at the Washington Post, said at the event, "I don't think anyone else who's black will ever rise to the level at the Washington Post" that Merida did. "That's the importance of Kevin Merida." Merida was the first black journalist to become managing editor.
Drew Harwell, Washington Post: In media universe, the force is strongest with Disney, Universal
"African immigrants make up a small share of the U.S. immigrant population, but their numbers are growing — roughly doubling every decade since 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data," Monica Anderson reported Monday for the Pew Research Center.
"There were 1.8 million African immigrants living in the U.S. in 2013, up from 881,000 in 2000 and a substantial increase from 1970, when the U.S. was home to only 80,000 foreign-born Africans. They accounted for 4.4% of the immigrant population in 2013, up from 0.8% in 1970.
"The growth is evident among recently arrived immigrants. When compared with other major groups who arrived in the U.S. in the past five years, Africans had the fastest growth rate from 2000 to 2013, increasing by 41% during that period. (Africans are also a rapidly growing segment of the black immigrant population in the U.S., increasing by 137% from 2000 to 2013.)
"The transatlantic slave trade beginning in the 16th century brought hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans to the U. S., but significant voluntary migration from Africa is a relatively new trend. . . ."
Deutsche Presse-Agentur and Europe Online: Hunt on to track down migrants from award-winning photo
Elena Shore, New America Media: African Immigrants Express Frustration Over Driver's License Hurdles (Oct. 27)
"The sign calls them the Samal Moros from the island of [Mindanao],"," Ed Diokno wrote Oct. 20 for AsAmNews. "I suspect they meant 'Samar.'
"111 years ago, Filipinos made their first big impression on America at the St. Louis [World's] Fair of 1904. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good one. Filipino Americans today are still living with the repercussions of the myths and images of that initial meeting.
"This month [October], Filipino American History Month, it is fitting we take a look back at that dark chapter in American history because its legacy still haunts Filipinos in America.
"One of the most popular exhibits of the fair was the entry from the Philippines which featured villages from various parts of the country. There were Muslims, Moros, Tagalogs, Visayans and Igorot tribal people.
"For most of the fair visitors, this was their first glimpse of the people from America’s Pacific colony with whom the U.S. fought the Philippine-American War. The U.S. media called it an insurrection, but from the Filipino point of view, it was a war for independence. The U.S. government spent $1.5 million to transport 1,300 Filipinos for the display. . . ."
Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Gay Manongs, the hard life of Larry Itliong, and the sexual fluidity of the first wave of Filipino Americans (Oct. 23)
Karan Mahajan, the New Yorker: The Two Asian Americas (Oct. 21)
"Every year, just before Thanksgiving, hundreds of reporters, editors, and producers gather at a ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to raise money for The Committee to Project Journalists and to honor a handful of exemplary men and women who have been imprisoned, flayed, beaten, harassed, censored, or, in some other way, oppressed for the sin of doing their jobs — the application of pressure on power," David Remnick reported Friday for the New Yorker. "We lift our heads from our salmon and our table gossip and applaud those who have suffered most deeply for daring the truth.
"This year, we chose to honor, among others, a collective of underground truth-tellers called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (R.B.S.S.) — a band of activist-reporters in Raqqa, a Syrian city on the north bank of the Euphrates, which, since January, 2014, has been the capital of the Islamic State, or ISIS. It is, for now at least, the center of a would-be caliphate.
"A few months after ISIS overran Raqqa, around seventeen young people started secretly gathering and posting evidence of the Islamic State’s bloodiest deprivations: beheadings, crucifixions, stonings, and other horrors. Using Twitter, Facebook, and their own Web site, members of R.B.S.S. have risked their lives to pose a counternarrative to the sophisticated and sickly self-admiring media campaign of the Islamic State.
"As Liz Sly, a correspondent for the Washington Post, put it, writing from Gaziantep, a Turkish city on the Syrian border, 'The word "silently" in the group's name attests to the sense of abandonment felt by many Syrians who watched in horror as their revolution for democratic change was hijacked by brutal jihadists.' . . .
Remnick also wrote, "Today came news of the Islamic State’s reach and taste for vengeance. An R.B.S.S. spokesman said on Twitter, 'One of our member called "Ibrahim" and another friend called "Fares" was found slaughtered in their house in Urfa,' in southeastern Turkey. The 'member' was Ibrahim Abd al Qader, a founder and executive director of R.B.S.S., who had been arrested and tortured by ISIS and who later fled to Turkey; his friend was Fares Hamadi, a journalist with a Syrian media collective called Eye on Homeland. . . ."
"A yearlong Associated Press investigation illuminated the problem of rape and sexual misconduct committed by law officers in the United States, uncovering about 1,000 cops, jail guards, deputies and others who lost their licenses from 2009 through 2014 for such incidents," Martha Irvine and Scott Smith reported Monday for the Associated Press. "Most certainly there are even more than that, because some states did not provide records and others, including New York and California, said they do not decertify officers for misconduct. . . ."
"After months of negotiation, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper sued the state to gain access to a database that tracks the training for Virginia's law enforcement officers," Jocelyn Rardin reported Oct. 27 from Norfolk, Va., for Courthouse News Service. "Gary Harki, a reporter for the Pilot, sought the training database as a starting point for a series of articles on law enforcement in the state. The database reportedly contains the names and other information on the more than 40,000 people with police powers in the state. . . ." Virginian-Pilot account.
"Newsroom cuts at the Philadelphia Media Network’s Inquirer and Daily News, announced at a staff meeting Friday, look at first to be just one more chapter in the decade-old opus of the industry’s deteriorating finances and reduced news capacity," Rick Edmonds wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute. Edmonds also wrote, "a check with a few insiders reinforced my view that time is running out for the 90-year-old tabloid. Most second papers under common ownership disappeared in the 80s and 90s. So the reasons for the longevity of the Daily News merit a look along with its worsening problems. . . . "
"Hugh Forrest, head of South By Southwest Inc.'s Interactive festival, has apologized for canceling two panel discussions focused on online harassment and the gamergate movement," Michael Theis reported Monday for the Dallas Business Journal. "After the policy reversal, the annual music and technology festival in Austin will host a day-long summit focused on how to combat online harassment. . . ."
In Toledo, Ohio, "Weekday anchor Viviana Hurtado, an award-winning journalist who most recently worked at ABC News, and was part of the Al Jazeera English launch team in 2006 as the network's North America correspondent, joined the WTOL-WUPW newsroom Oct. 1," the Blade reported on Saturday. "Hurtado will co-anchor the 6:30 p.m. half-hour and 10 p.m. hour newscasts with Jerry Anderson. . . ."
"The head of the National Hispanic Media Coalition said the group is close to striking a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Charter [Communications] on jobs and other diversity issues and is also talking about expanding carriage of four English-language Hispanic-targeted networks," John Eggerton reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Charter wants to merge with Time Warner Cable and Bright House and every little diversity bit helps in Washington. Meeting with a variety of diversity groups and finding ways to make their deals more agreeable to them is common practice for companies looking to merge. . . ."
"The family of a Hampton University student shot and killed early Saturday morning has a message for the community: 'put the guns down,'” Joe Fisher reported Sunday for WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Va. "Police say a fight turned deadly just after 3 a.m. Saturday. Joseph Bose, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene near the intersection of West 35th Street and Killam Avenue. . . . Bose’s cousins say the Hampton University junior journalism student and Alexandria, Va. native was visiting friends at Old Dominion University for the weekend. . . ."
"The Israeli military raided a Palestinian radio station in the West Bank on Tuesday and confiscated equipment it said was being used to broadcast calls to attack Israelis," the Associated Press reported. It quoted the station's director, Ayman Qawasmeh: "We didn't incite, we just reported the Israeli daily crimes against our people in Hebron. They want to silence our voice." [Added Nov. 3]
"Local friends and relatives of journalist Temesghen Desalegn, who is serving a three-year jail term, said that Ethiopian prison authorities in Ziway Prison have denied him medical treatment and all prison visits," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday. "A court in the capital, Addis Ababa, convicted Temesghen on October 27, 2014, on charges of defamation, incitement, and false publication in connection with a series of opinion pieces published in 2012 in the now-defunct Feteh ("Justice") newsmagazine, according to a translated copy of the charge sheet in CPJ's possession. . . ."