"When I read 'The Help' two years ago (I couldn't put it down) and watched the film last Saturday (which made me laugh and cry), I could feel the pain of another white 40-something Mississippian who wants to make it all better.
"She's pining for a happier ending for our state, and she's using her talents to make it so," Donna Ladd, editor of the Jackson Free Press, an alternative paper in Jackson, Miss., wrote on Wednesday. Jackson is the setting of the much-discussed film and novel "The Help."
Ladd, a native of Philadelphia, Miss., was in this column last month as former chair of the Diversity Committee of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, commenting on efforts to diversify alternative newsweeklies.
"Did she intentionally write a fairy tale?" Ladd continued. "Certainly, her tale is infused with bits of truth about the horror of the time for black women and tragedy of white women raised to love, hate and abuse them all at the same time.
"But those nuggets are, seemingly, uninformed by voices of real black women, from former maids . . . to female intellectuals like bell hooks and, now, [Melissa Harris-Perry], who can teach us if we'll just listen.
Donna Ladd ". . . For me as a hell-raising white woman, 'The Help' bothers me even more. I love the strong women in it, but I know our history well enough to see how the movie's naive ending softens our history for newer generations. The story touches on the Citizens Council and Medgar Evers' murder by a Citizens Councilor, but viewers will not know just how entrenched Jackson was in 1963-64. Bill Simmons, the head of the Citizens Councils of America, used to spread race hatred from his Fairview Street home before it became an inn. He used to say he knew where every white person in Jackson stood on the race question.
". . . 'The Help' just could not have ended as it did. Hilly, or her man, would have called the Council on Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter. My guess is that Aibileen would have been severely beaten and never hired again in the state; anyone related to Skeeter would have been destroyed economically and at least one cross burned in her mama's yard; and Minny would have been killed and her house burned."
"The Help" has received mixed reviews from African American critics and columnists, but is doing well at the box office.
"After debuting in the No. 2 spot last weekend, the film about sisterhood in the racially divided 1960s' South has [led] the midweek derby on strong word-of-mouth and should closet a total of $70 million by Sunday night," Paul Dergarabedian wrote Friday for the Associated Press.
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Film helps to tell a story that's seldom heard
Valerie Boyd, artscriticatl.com: "The Help," a feel-good movie for white people
Desiree Cooper blog: Children of "The Help"
Javier E. David, theGrio.com: 'The Help' shows good stories have no color barrier
EURWeb.com: 'The Help' Tops 'Apes' At Monday Box Office
Lynette Holloway, theRoot.com: Black Female Historians Slam 'The Help'
Jerry Mitchell, Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.: 'The Help' lawsuit tossed out
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: 'The Help' surprises with dignified portrayal of black maids
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: The Help: Race, class, and Hollywood gloss: ‘The Help’ manages to mean well without forging new ground
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 'The Help' shows Hollywood still in need of help
Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: Beyond 'The Help' — race still matters
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: 'The Help' — an imperfect triumph
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: 'The Help' is fiction, but the treatment and courage it shows are real
Teresa Wiltz, theRoot.com: 'The Help': Served by Huge Talent
"A Journal photographer on assignment for the newspaper ended up in police handcuffs Wednesday afternoon in a case of mistaken identity," Astrid Galvan wrote Friday for the Albuquerque Journal.
"Staff photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis said he was forced to get on the ground in handcuffs for about half an hour after a State Police officer pulled him over on eastbound Interstate 40.
"Pierre-Louis, who is 49 and has been with the Journal for more than 16 years, was in a Ford Explorer registered to the Albuquerque Publishing Co.
"State Police spokesman Tim Johnson confirmed the incident occurred but said officers acted appropriately and were following standard operating procedure. He refused to release a report, citing a State Police policy that requires the news media to file a public records request for any report.
"Pierre-Louis, who had been photographing an assignment in Los Lunas, said the incident was degrading and should not have gone on that long.
" 'I feel that the fact that I wasn’t offered a formal apology, that’s more upsetting than anything,' he said.
"The episode started shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, when a man standing on the side of the highway flagged down State Police Officer Joseph Schake, who works in the Farmington area but was in town for a conference at Route 66 Casino Hotel.
"The man told Schake that a bald man in a white Ford Expedition had just pointed his gun at him and driven off on eastbound I-40, Johnson said.
" . . . Afterward, the victim told police his perpetrator was a Hispanic man who had picked him up and was giving him a ride. Johnson said he did not know if police found that man. Pierre-Louis is not Hispanic. . . ."
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza this month judged President Obama to have had the "Worst Week in Washington" after a drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard & Poor's credit downgrade and swing-state polling showing the president vulnerable. Add to that a "poverty tour" by Obama critics Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, a push for jobs by the Congressional Black Caucus, dissatisfaction over the administration's immigration policies and a presidential vacation, and it makes for plenty of material for commentary:
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Smiley and West have too much baggage on poverty bus tour
Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Our financial problems extend far beyond D.C.
Marcia Dyson, Huffington Post: Take Me To The Waters
Michael K. Fauntroy blog: In Defense of Tavis and Cornel
Emil Guillermo blog: "Downgrade pain" courtesy of our political class
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Cornel West, Tavis Smiley to undertake poverty tour (Aug. 5)
Clarence B. Jones, Huffington Post: Don't Kill the Messengers. Listen to the Message of Professor Cornel West and Tavis Smiley
Colbert I. King, Washington Post: It’s no time for a presidential vacation
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Presidential Vacation Whiners Should Get a Life
Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: An Immigration Grade Red Herring
Devin Robinson, Atlanta Post: What Is The Shame in Helping Blacks?
Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: Ax, not expand, President Obama's racist immigration policies
Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Where have all the leaders gone? Not to D.C.
Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: To Obama: Rest up, then fight back
David Squires, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.: The 2011 Obama Compromise
David Squires, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.: Scott's unlikely GOP ally on debt bill
Wendi C. Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal: More than one push needed to end poverty
Mark Trahant, Indianz.com: Country heads in different directions on big issues
Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista blog: How much longer will Obama administration pretend it doesn't have a Latino problem?
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Bachmann win is a win for Obama, too
Armstrong Williams blog: Vindication and Trepidation
Jeff Winbush blog: "Dear Brother Cornel and Tavis…" .W.W.H.H.D. (What Would Hillary Have Done?)
"A few weeks ago, President Obama's most likely scenario for re-election was facing a moderate Republican who had made few controversial remarks in his years in public life and could easily cast himself as a business-focused technocrat," Perry Bacon Jr. wrote Thursday for theRoot.com.
"But that potential opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is no longer the heavy favorite to win the GOP nomination. And the emergence of Texas Gov. Rick Perry could be the best thing to happen to the president's re-election prospects in months.
". . . If Perry won the nomination, the contest between him and Obama would not simply be one in which the Republican railed against the president's record on the economy and Obama had little grounds on which to attack the Republican. Unlike Romney as candidate, a Perry candidacy would allow Obama's team to highlight the Texas governor's more controversial history: remarks about Texas seceding from the union, his push to require sixth-graders to get vaccines for cervical cancer, his links to George W. Bush, his description of Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme.' And Perry, as illustrated by his remarks since he got into the race, doesn't simply want to have an election on Obama's record; he wants a broad debate about the overall role of the federal government."
Clifford L. Alexander Jr., Huffington Post: Thinking About Gov. Perry
Cary Clack, San Antonio Express-News: Should we really judge Perry by his grades?
Froma Harrop, National Conference of Editorial Writers: On Rick Perry avoiding editorial writers
Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Rick Perry's Jobs "Swagger"
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Rick Perry’s Texas Racial Miracle is Suspect Too
David A. Love, theGrio.com: Rick Perry's Texas is no 'miracle', it's a mirage
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Gov. Rick Perry Is the Real Deal
Shawn Williams, theRoot.com: Rick Perry: The View From Texas
George L. Daniels, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama, is chairman of the Diversity Committee of the Society for Professional Journalists.
He wonders why, were he an African American student going into journalism, he would "have far less of a chance of finding a job in journalism and communication than another student who is not from a historically underrepresented racial group."
Citing a newly released survey of 2010 graduates of the nation's journalism and mass communication programs, Daniels wrote that he asked the survey's author, Lee B. Becker, director of the annual surveys in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, "what might account for this gap.
". . . He referenced 'things ingrained in the system that work against minority students.'
"Those include the lack of access to the networks that might land them a job, likelihood of needing to work while in school thus making them less able to take what are increasingly unpaid internships in news organizations and less opportunities to work on campus media."
Daniels cited the Black College Communication Association's annual HBCU Newspaper (now Media) Conference; "the impressive staff of The Monitor, the conference publication produced during the National Association of Black Journalists Annual Convention"; and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Parity Project, though that program has been hit with funding cutbacks.
Daniels asked, "So I’m back to the earlier question — WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?"
A report released this week by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, "How Americans Use Their Cell Phones," suggests that most African Americans don't use their cellphones "to stay informed, connected and productive," as do he and his wife, Mira, Herbert Lowe wrote Friday for the Poynter Institute.
"Yes, the study says, blacks and Latinos have higher usage rates, compared with white owners, across a wide range of mobile applications.
"As other surveys have found consistently, however, most blacks and Latinos primarily use their cells for texting and for entertainment. Even if their phones make it easy to access the Internet, it’s not news they're after.
". . . Media companies must better engage people of color as content creators and producers, not just users, said Chioma Ugochukwu, Ph.D., an assistant dean and my colleague in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
". . . Monica Rhor, a Houston-based freelance writer who writes about education for Latino Ed Beat and Mamiverse. . . said media companies should develop more access points with teachers seeking to present news in their classrooms."
- Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: Trapped in an online barrio
". . On the night of Aug. 19, 1991 — the night that Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum were killed — my editor called me at home to tell me that riots had broken out on the streets of Crown Heights" in Brooklyn, N.Y., Ari L. Goldman wrote last week for the Jewish Week. " 'We’re covered for tonight but I want you to start your day there tomorrow,' he said.
"Over the next three days, working 12 hours shifts and only going home to sleep, I saw and heard many terrible things. I saw police cars set on fire, stores being looted and people bloodied by Billy clubs, rocks and bottles. One woman told me that she barricaded herself into her apartment and put the mattresses on the windows so her children would not be hurt by flying glass.
"Over those three days I also saw journalism go terribly wrong. The city’s newspapers, so dedicated to telling both sides of the story in the name of objectivity and balance, often missed what was really going on. Journalists initially framed the story as a 'racial' conflict and failed to see the anti-Semitism inherent in the riots. As the 20th anniversary of the riots approaches, I find myself re-examining my own role in the coverage and trying to extract some lessons for myself and my profession.
". . . In all my reporting during the riots I never saw — or heard of — any violence by Jews against blacks. But the [New York] Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions. To show Jewish culpability in the riots, the paper even ran a picture — laughable even at the time — of a chasidic man brandishing an open umbrella before a police officer in riot gear. The caption read: 'A police officer scuffling with a Hasidic man yesterday on President Street.'
"I was outraged but I held my tongue. . . ."
Nate Lavey, the Jewish Daily Forward: Living Apart in Crown Heights (video)
"My wife told me so," John W. Fountain wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. "And yet, I had to go and open my big mouth anyway on the very sensitive subject of sisters and the hair weave epidemic currently gripping our nation. Man, oh man. It’s been, uh, unbeweaveable.
"For my musings — even though they were meant for good, for the promotion of natural black beauty — one sister wrote to me saying she wanted to come downtown and punch me in the face. Another wrote disparaging me as a 'bald black man' and saying that as such, I had some nerve for daring to broach the subject. Who did I think I was?
" 'My head is my head and I wear on my head what makes me feel happy and pretty,' wrote another sister, who said she had long healthy natural hair but often indulges in wearing weaves, changing from blonde to redhead to brunette. 'I believe I can speak for most black women: "Don’t mess with [our] hair!" Beweave that.'
"Alas, I do beweave it.
"And though I may have made one small step for man in my attempt to make one giant one for weave-kind by my examination of this hairy cultural phenomenon, I must now recede, like my hairline, from any further discussion of this most sensitive matter that can hold dangerous consequences. But I have discovered I am not alone. . . ."
* John W. Fountain, Chicago Sun-Times: Musings on black women's hair (July 20)
* John W. Fountain, Chicago Sun-Times: The glamor of Harriet Tubman
* Joe Sharkey, New York Times: With Hair Pat-Downs, Complaints of Racial Bias
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