• Media Remind Us of Those Not on Holiday Cards
  • Citizens See Journalists as Powerful in Own Right
  • Critics Target April Ryan After Melania Comment
  • Does ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Apply to Food Media?
  • Philly Responds to Report on Housing Bias
  • N.C. Paper Says Let Public Decide on R. Kelly
  • Dallas to Memorialize 1910 Lynching Victim
  • Congress Acts on Toxic Smoke Over Black Town
  • Film Seeks to Boost Esteem of Asian American Men
  • Friday Is Deadline to Nominate a J-Educator
  • Short Takes
On May 5, dozens gathered in Rapid City, S.D., to honor and bring light to missing and murdered indigenous women, men and children. Present at a presentation afterward was the family of Alex “Tank” Vasquez, whose birthday is on May 6 and who went missing in Kyle, S.D. on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in October 2015. The family continues to search.
Photo: Richie Richards (Native Sun News Today)

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Media Remind Us of Those Not on Holiday Cards

In the poem “Mother to Son,” Langston Hughes famously quotes a parent telling her child, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair/ It’s had tacks in it/ And splinters/ And boards torn up . . .”

For this Mother’s Day, the news media echoed that thought, with reference points from 2018.

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The separation of families who cross into the US from Mexico illegally is now official US government policy,” Dara Lind wrote disapprovingly Tuesday for vox.com. She quoted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”

Tresa Baldas wrote Tuesday for the Detroit Free Press, “The pay phone at a Michigan jail has turned into a lifeline for a novel group of inmates who have shown up this year: Mothers facing deportation who desperately want to talk to their children.

“Most have no criminal convictions, attorneys say. All have American-born children.

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“But they’ve lost their right to live in the U.S. under tough new immigration policies that lump all of those who are here illegally into the same category — criminal background or not — landing at least 30 women, half of them mothers, at the Calhoun County jail in Battle Creek, Mich., in recent months. . . .”

The pains of motherhood respect no national borders. “Mother’s Day in Mexico has in recent years become the date of a doleful annual tradition — so-called dignity marches to call for justice in the cases of tens of thousands of Mexicans whose whereabouts are unknown,” Patrick J. McDonnell reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times, “mostly since the nation declared its war on drug traffickers in 2006. The missing are called the ‘disappeared,’ and most are believed to have been abducted and killed. . . .”

Jacqueline Keeler of High Country News spotlighted an overlooked issue in the United States and in Canada.

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There is no reliable official database recording the names or even the number of missing and murdered Native women in the United States, but the scattered data available paint a frightening picture,” Keeler wrote Monday. “The blog Justice for Native Women, run by Makoons Miller-Tanner, Ojibway from Minnesota, uses crowd-sourced information to put names and faces to Native women who have disappeared or whose bodies have been found but whose deaths remain unsolved.

“Week after week, more names and photos are added. Each listing begins with the phrase, ‘This is ______________,’ followed by a photo of the woman. Many of them are selfies, showing the women and girls as they wanted to be seen: vibrant and perfectly made-up young people, their smiles brilliant with life and hope. ‘This is Nicole Morgan, missing from New Mexico since 2018. . . .

This is Val Caye, missing from Washington since 2018. … This is Ashley Loring/HeavyRunner, missing from Montana since 2017. … This is Natalie White Lightning, murdered in North Dakota in 2014.’ . . .”

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At NPR headquarters in Washington on Friday, Jenni Monet (Laguna), Ryan Red Corn (Osage), Annita Lucchesi (Southern Cheyenne) completed a three-day workshop designed to help small teams shape audio projects. “There are so many disappeared Native women that no [one] really knows for sure — and the pile of cold cases of the murdered continues to mount,” the three said in their proposal.

The editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer tied motherhood to the seemingly intractable issue of gun violence.

If Pennsylvania legislators want to make the state’s mothers happy on Mother’s Day, they can give them what they want,” the board wrote. “It’s simple: They want their children to be safe, to have a chance to grow up and fulfill their dreams.”

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“The way to their hearts is to give mothers — and fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends — reasonable gun safety laws.

“This is the moment. . . .”

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For those mothers for whom those laws would come too late, philly.com columnist Helen Ubiñas told readers of their wishes for justice.

Ubinas wrote about “The mothers. The victims who survive the violence but who navigate long, painful roads, often alone. The detectives at a ‘next of kin’ meeting I went to this week, who sat across from families and gave assurance that they were not giving up despite almost half of murders in Philly going unsolved.

“Keep the faith. Never give up hope. . . “

In the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Mary Mitchell reminded readers of a statistic that led to a widely praised series a year ago, a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. “An alarming number of black women in the U.S. are dying in childbirth, and black infants are twice as likely to die as white infants,” Mitchell wrote.

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“Each year in the United States, about 700 to 1,200 women die from pregnancy or childbirth, and black women are about three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy or delivery complications than white women,” according to a report on CNN. . . .”Austin is a community on Chicago’s West Side. “The alarming mortality rate for black women and their babies means the work of New Moms, a social service agency in Austin that serves young mothers, is as critical today it was a half century ago,” Mitchell continued.

Jasmine Stewart joined New Moms’ “Workforce Development” program and eventually became a family-support specialist. “The most common issue she sees? Homelessness.

“They are staying with a domestic partner or a mom or a family member, but it is not permanent. Following that is employment. They need help getting a job.”

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Mitchell concluded, “This Mother’s Day, Stewart hopes people will also honor and support moms who have lost children and have miscarried.

“ ‘It is a big deal,’ she says. ‘This is a life, and it means something to that mother. She is still a mom.’ ”

Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune: Immigrants in the U.S. illegally make us safer

Elva Díaz, Arizona Republic: Andrés Manuel López Obrador is America’s worst nightmare

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Brandon T. Harden, Philadelphia Inquirer: They may not get a holiday, but ‘aunts’ are the backbone of the black community

Ivan MacDonald, High Country News: Why we tell stories of the missing and murdered

Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Deporting 300,000 TPS recipients will devastate Haiti and Central American countries

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Richie Richards, Native Sun News Today: ‘No more stolen sisters!’: Events raise awareness of the missing and murdered

Soraya Nadia McDonald, the Undefeated: How to think about Clair Huxtable after Bill Cosby’s conviction

Linda Yu, Chicago Sun-Times: My mother’s dream was for me to become a journalist

Citizens See Journalists as Powerful in Own Right

It’s been a landmark year for ordinary citizens in the news,Ruth Palmer wrote April 13 for zocalopublicsquare.org. “Without the hurricane survivors, student protestors, mass shooting victims, and sexual abuse survivors who agreed to speak to reporters, our understanding of some of the most important issues of the day would be murky at best.

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“By giving first-hand accounts of what happened on the ground — or on the casting couch — before reporters arrived at the scene, citizen sources perform an important public service. But behind every citizen we see in the news is another story — about their interaction with journalists and the repercussions of their decision to go public — that audiences rarely know much about.

“Occasional glimpses behind the scenes are telling — and troubling. A hurricane survivor bawls out a journalist in a video that goes viral. A sexual abuse survivor writes of losing every shred of privacy after deciding to go public. Student gun control advocates later face cyber-harassment and conspiracy theories.

“I’ve spent the last 10 years interviewing ordinary people about what it feels like to become the focus of news attention. . . . [O]ne of the most striking lessons I learned from speaking to citizen news sources is how differently they tend to see journalists from how journalists tend to see themselves. My interviewees mostly thought of journalists not primarily as citizens´ defenders against powerful people and institutions, but as powerful people and institutions in their own right. . . .”

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Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times: Trump again threatens government action against reporters

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times: The staggering body count as California newspapers founder, and democracy loses

Pete Vernon, Columbia Journalism Review: ESPN’s final public editor on the ‘unfortunate’ decision to eliminate the position

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Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing: The end of ESPN’s public editor position completes a disappointing decline in relevancy that could have been avoided

Critics Target April Ryan After Melania Comment

CNN commentator April Ryan is under fire after she said Melania Trump was not ‘culturally American’ while commenting on the First Lady’s ‘Be Best’ campaign,” Britain’s Daily Mail reported Tuesday, updated Wednesday.

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“Ryan and CNN’s Erin Burnett were discussing Melania’s new anti-cyberbullying campaign when she made the controversial comment.

“ ‘This is a First Lady who is not culturally American, but she is learning the ways,’ Ryan told Burnett.

‘This is not just an American issue. These are not just American issues. These are international issues. Cyberbullying is an international issue.’ . . .”

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The story also said, “A number of critics took to social media to blast Ryan for her comment about Melania, a Slovenia native who moved to the US in 1996 on a work visa.

Steven Cheung, the White House Director of Strategic Response, took aim at the CNN commentator on Twitter. . . .”

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Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Melania’s ‘Be Best’ campaign is for an audience of one

Does ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Apply to Food Media?

Image: Multicult Classics

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If the 2018 James Beard Awards are any indication, we may have made a serious turn in representation in the food world,” Nikita Richardson wrote Thursday for grubstreet.com.

“The majority of awards given to chefs and restaurants, as well as awards given to food media, went to women and people of color. Among them, Michael W. Twitty, who became the first African-American to win the esteemed Book of the Year award, as well as the award for Writing; and Eduardo Jordan, who operates the restaurants Salare and JuneBaby in Seattle, took home the honors for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: Northwest.

“For some, the wins feel like the food-journalism version of [Barack] Obama’s 2008 election — long-overdue recognition that offers something like hope. . . . all of which highlighted just how rare an occurrence this kind of acclaim is for black chefs, writers, and journalists, and how performative it can feel when white-led institutions make a point to champion certain African-Americans while ignoring others.

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“Black points of view are common in film, music, fashion, literature, and politics, yet the slice of the journalism world that covers food, chefs, and restaurants as pop culture remains deeply un-integrated.

“The fact is, the handful of people who are in charge of deciding which chefs and writers are elevated from hometown heroes to national celebrities — prominent editors-in-chief, deputy editors, restaurant critics, and on down the mastheads — are white.

“ ‘There is gatekeeping that happens in food media that has a real impact on the type of stories and recipes and cultural understanding that we could have,’ says Shakirah Simley, a writer and food activist based in San Francisco. ‘There’s a real systematic oppression in place that limits black voices, black stories, and black experiences and that has filtered, I think, throughout the entire media and publishing world, but it’s especially problematic in food media.’ . . .”

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Philly Responds to Report on Housing Bias

Reveal digs deep — and gets results,” the Reveal project, a co-production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, said May 5 in promoting its podcast. “This week’s episode shines a light on the consequences of some recent investigations.

“By mining data from 31 million records, we discovered a pattern of racial disparities in mortgage lending across 60 U.S. metropolitan areas. We zeroed in on one city, Philadelphia, to show how black applicants are nearly three times more likely to be denied a home loan than their white counterparts. Now, officials in Philadelphia are demanding changes and accountability.

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“While many people of color have trouble getting mortgages, we investigate one high-end property that didn’t even need one. Our reporters try to untangle a web of unusual dealings that involve a big-donor Republican couple who flips houses, a minister who promotes himself as an Egyptian pop star and the future president of the United States. . . .”

The podcast referred to a Feb. 15 story by Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez. Their analysis “found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio. African Americans faced the most resistance in Southern cities — Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, North Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida — and Latinos in Iowa City, Iowa.

“No matter their location, loan applicants told similar stories, describing an uphill battle with loan officers who they said seemed to be fishing for a reason to say no. . . .”

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Cherizar Crippen posts a sign to voice her opposition to musical artist R. Kelly’s performance at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Photo: News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

N.C. Paper Says Let Public Decide on R. Kelly

Let the market — and the people — decide,” the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., editorialized Friday. It wrote amid growing calls to boycott R. Kelly and his music. Kelly, meanwhile,  prepared to perform in the city despite growing calls for businesses and the public to heed allegations of sexual abuse by Kelly.

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“Coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown, whose decision this is, should go on with the concert (a coliseum spokesman said Thursday that approximately 5,000 tickets had been sold),” the editorial continued. “The protesters should make their voices heard. It’s their right, and this is an issue [that] deserves the overdue attention it’s receiving. Others may choose to vote with their dollars simply by not going to the concert.

“That way, they’ll hit an alleged sexual predator where it hurts him the most: his wallet.”

At the appointed time, about 30 people gathered across the street from the Greensboro Coliseum to protest, Andre L. Taylor reported for the News & Record.

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“Several cars drove by Friday’s protest honking at the group of people with signs that read: ‘R. Kelly is a pedophile,’ and ‘Step in the name of justice,’ a play on his song, ‘Step in the name of love.’

“The signs didn’t strike a chord with everyone who walked or drove by the protest. . . .”

Associated Press: R. Kelly says media using sex allegations to kill his legacy (May 4)

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BBC: R Kelly gives defiant performance amid protests in North Carolina

Tom Foreman Jr., Associated Press: Black people should hold R. Kelly accountable: protesters

A display at the new Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
Photo: John Hickey (Buffalo News)

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Dallas to Memorialize 1910 Lynching Victim

We memorialize some moments in history because it is important to remember that courage is part of our human story,” the Dallas Morning News editorialized on Friday. “But we memorialize other moments because it is equally important to remember that an evil lurks deep within the human heart that takes courage and fortitude to defeat in society.

“So we are heartened that the Dallas City Council decided recently to approve the creation of a memorial to Allen Brooks, who was lynched in this city on March 3, 1910.

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“For those who are unfamiliar with this story, it may be hard to imagine that it actually happened in Dallas. But in late February of that year Brooks, who was black, was found in a barn with a white toddler. Brooks was arrested and accused of attempted rape. Reports tell us that law enforcement hid him to avoid an angry mob. But injustice caught up to him on March 3.

“On that day, an estimated crowd of 5,000 people surrounded the Dallas County Courthouse (which is now the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture). A smaller mob stormed the building and broke into the room where Brooks was being held. He was pulled by a rope out of a second story window and dragged by the neck along Main Street to Akard Street, where he was hanged.

“All of this happened in the light of day and in full view of the citizens of the city, including children. Later a postcard was made of the scene of this lynching. . . .”

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Meanwhile, the Buffalo News editorialized May 1 in favor of the Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, which was due to open the following Friday. When it does, the editorial said, it “will take its place among the nation’s historical sites commemorating the journey of slaves who fled to freedom in Canada. Significantly, it will be the only such museum on the international border.

“The center tells the story about a terrible time in American history when humans held each other in bondage. Confronting these awful truths can be difficult but there is a thirst for such knowledge. The center in Niagara Falls will be added to the growing list of heritage tourism sites.

“The Niagara Falls center should be an attraction to tourists, and should be actively promoted. . . .”

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Ann-Derrick Gaillot, the Outline: America needs a monument to Ida B. Wells

Congress Acts on Toxic Smoke Over Black Town

The next round of Department of Defense funding will come with an important requirement: Congress wants the Pentagon’s outmoded and highly toxic practice of burning old munitions and other explosives in the open air to finally come to a stop,” Abrahm Lustgarten reported Thursday for ProPublica.

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“The language of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act made public this week, which proposes $717 billion in spending, also demands that the Pentagon report back to Congress with a specific plan for ending the centurylong burning of munitions.

“ProPublica investigated the Pentagon’s open burn program as part of a series of reports on Department of Defense pollution last year. . . .”

One of the affected locations is Colfax, La., “a rough-hewn, mostly black town of 1,532 people that hugs a levee separating it from the surging mud and wild alligators of the Red River. Fleeing former slaves once camped under thatched tents in the bayou, and a historic marker serves as a reminder that more than 150 ‘negroes’ were once massacred here. Another monument, in the graveyard a few steps away, praises the three white men who also died, as ‘heroes … fighting for white supremacy’ . . .,” as Journal-isms reported last July.

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Film Seeks to Boost Esteem of Asian American Men

Kevin Kreider
Photo: Twitter

I can almost hear the groans,” Randall Yip wrote Friday for his AsAmNews.”You’re writing about AMSS, the Asian Male Stereotype Syndrome, again? Don’t you get tired writing about that?

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“Well, yes! Like many adult Asian American men, I had to go through this phase of self-loathing, wondering where this shame and self-hatred is coming from. I know that there is a young Asian American boy out there going through this unpleasant phase and possibly thinking he’s ugly, he’s unattractive, he might even be thinking of harming himself.

“Now, there’s a new documentary on this social state called The Ugly Model starring model Kevin Kreider.

“Looking at Kreider, his handsome face and his physique and you wouldn’t think that he would suffer from this social affliction called AMSS. He has a popular Instagram and vlog and has . . . modeled for the likes of Men’s Health, Gillette, Reebok and Abercrombie & Fitch.

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“Yet, even he with his six-pack abs and chiseled chin has been riddled with self-doubt. Since childhood, Kreider has always felt ugly and second best as an Asian male in America.

“This film examines the paradox of the handsome male model who feels unattractive, ashamed and emasculated because of his Asian ethnicity. . . .”

Yip also wrote, “There is a dearth of positive representations of Asian men in film, television and media. Historically in American film and media, Asian men are portrayed as weak, unattractive and never getting the girl (or boy) they desire. . . .”

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Friday Is Deadline to Nominate a J-Educator

Beginning in 1990, the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually granted a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — “in recognition of an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism.”

AOJ merged in 2016 into the American Society of News Editors, which is continuing the Bingham award tradition.

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Since 2000, the recipient has been awarded an honorarium of $1,000 to be used to “further work in progress or begin a new project.”

Gerald Jordan

Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State University (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003).

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Also, Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); Yvonne Latty, New York University (2011); Michelle Johnson, Boston University (2012); Vanessa Shelton, University of Iowa (2013); William Drummond, University of California at Berkeley (2014); Julian Rodriguez of the University of Texas at Arlington (2015) (video); David G. Armstrong, Georgia State University (2016) (video); and Gerald Jordan, University of Arkansas (2017).

Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, ASNE Opinion Journalism Committee, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is May 18. Please use that address only for ASNE matters.

Short Takes

Charles Whitaker

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Alexis Cubit

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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.