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Hometown: VA
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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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How African-American Success Stories Undermine Sympathy for Racial Inequalities

This article is by Clayton Critcher, an assistant professor of marketing, cognitive science, and psychology at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

In his majority opinion that struck down the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Our country has changed,” essentially stating that the 1965 civil rights legislation was outdated. But the recent racist rants of Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy have had some wondering just how far we have actually come.

What these episodes may most clearly illustrate is how difficult it is to gauge the prevalence of racism in modern America. Do Sterling and Bundy reflect a widespread racism that typically resides just outside of the limelight, or does the swiftness with which the NBA and Republican Party distanced themselves from these pariahs reinforce Roberts’ claim?

University of Chicago professor Jane Risen and I, recognizing that the racial climate is difficult to assess, set out to understand what guides people’s beliefs. After all, it matters whether you see modern America as a nation plagued by racism or as one where equal opportunity is real. It affects how you make sense of why racial disparities persist (and thus what, if anything, you think can be done about them).

We found that when non-blacks were exposed to African-American success stories—tales of those who defied the odds, like Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier, Brown University President Ruth Simmons, and even President Obama—they became less sympathetic to more average African-Americans, without even realizing it. They unknowingly reasoned, “If he can do it, so can they.”

Risen and I conducted eight experiments with both college undergraduates and non-students. We had participants complete a supposedly unrelated task before expressing their opinion about why racial disparities persist in modern America. In the first part, participants answered numerous questions like, “Which of the two men shown below do you think is famous author John Grisham?” For some participants, one or two of these questions involved especially successful African-Americans. These key questions appeared straightforward (e.g., “Which of the two men shown below is the CEO of Merck?), but their true purpose was to subtly inform participants (through the provided pictures) that a particular high-level position was occupied by an African-American. As a control, other participants were asked only about whites.


Marker to note Boston’s first African American-owned home

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick is planning to officiate at a ceremony noting the location of the first home in Boston owned by an American-American.

The historic marker will be placed Tuesday where Zipporah Potter Atkins’ 1670 home once stood. The location is now part of the city’s Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Atkins was born free at a time when Africans in Massachusetts were more often enslaved. She lived from 1645 to 1705.

Researchers at the Heritage Guild said Atkins was also the only 17th century woman of African descent known to have purchased land in Boston.

Atkins purchased her house in 1670 and remained a North End resident until 1699 when she sold her house and became the first woman of African-descent to sign her initials to a deed in Suffolk County.


New Emory dean to women: "There is no one way to do your life!"

FORTUNE -- Erika Hayes James never thought she would end up with a career in academia. After finishing her doctoral dissertation at the University Of Michigan in 1995, the Bermuda native pursued job offers in the corporate and consulting world. Yet a well-trusted advisor asked that she try working as a professor for just one year. James decided to give it a go.

Twenty years later, James finds herself making history as the first African-American woman to lead an elite American business school. Calling herself the "accidental academic," James will become dean of Emory's Goizueta Business School on July 15th. In an exclusive interview with Fortune, James discusses her plans for her new role as well as the role she sees herself playing to correct the diversity imbalance plaguing business education.

Edited excerpts:

How did you react when you found out you got the job as dean of Emory?

The reaction was one of pure joy for me and for the opportunity this creates for Goizueta. There is such a strong alignment with my vision and the school's visions and needs. The overarching values of the school are focused on principle leadership, integrity and ethics, and excellence in all dimensions. Excellence is what it's trying to create for the students at the school and excellence in the faculty and that's something that I've tried to make a cornerstone of my own career. It seemed like a natural fit.

Has the historical significance of your appointment as dean to a top business school impacted you at all?

Going through the process, it really had not. But after seeing the press and how people are reacting to my appointment as a woman and an African-American leading a top business school, it has. When I see it in print, the reality of what that really means hits me. It is not something I spent a lot of time contemplating, but I see why it is so significant. I want to make sure to live up to the expectations I have for myself and the expectations that everyone who cares about business education have for me for this role.


On Racism, Conservatives Fail to Self-police

Late last month the U.S. experienced a couple of high-profile racist statements -- one from then NBA owner Donald Sterling and the other from conservative hero, rancher, lawbreaker and "taker" Cliven Bundy.

If nothing else, these comments proved that we are not in a post-racial era, as many would have you believe. Obviously given the status of both of these me, their comments garnered national media attention and started a number of conversations.

As you might expect, these conversations revealed just how far we have to go but one of the unexpected comments I received when discussing race issues in America was "you bloggers and opinion writers need to let the race thing rest for a while. It's getting old and tiring."

Gee, you mean to tell me old white conservatives don't want to talk about how the statements of other old white conservatives could be seen as racist?

Back when "black-on-black crime" was all the rage in the conservative media, talking heads like Bill O'Reilly were out in front calling on black leaders to address this issue. After all it was their community -- shouldn't they do something? Now that the shoe is on the other foot, conservatives no longer sees any value in a community policing their own?

Funny how that works.


African American historic sites focus of work in Oregon

The following is a news release from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office:

#In honor of Historic Preservation Month, the Oregon Black Pioneers, in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office, announces a property survey project entitled "Preserving Oregon's African American Historic Places." Working with community partners and a dedicated community volunteers we endeavor to protect and preserve Oregon's African American historic sites and places from the time period of 1844 to 1984.

#The revelation of relatively unknown and/or hidden African American historic sites and places promises to add yet another dimension to Oregon's rich history. An early settlement era, gothic revival style home belonged to Black pioneers Hannah and Eliza Gorman, and is still standing in Corvallis, Oregon. Hannah and her six years old daughter, Eliza came across the Oregon Trail in 1844 with the John Thorp family. In La Grande there is the little-known church, Boyd Memorial Baptist Church, now known as Amazing Grace Fellowship. Constructed in 1920, Amazing Grace Fellowship represents one of the oldest African American church in Oregon.

#Preserving Oregon African American Historic Places is a crowd-sourcing survey project that allows the general public to contribute information online that pertains to existing structures with any African American association in their histories and cemeteries with African American burials. These places can be buildings ANYWHERE in Oregon where African Americans worked, sites where important events happened, or objects created, installed, or inspired by African Americans. Our ultimate goal is to create a multiple property document that identifies sites for nomination to the national register of historic places.

#Please share your information! If you know of any places like this, please share your information! The information will be added to the collection of the Oregon Black Pioneers and the Oregon Historic Sites Database. Provide as much information as you can, but it is OK to leave blanks if you do not know the particular information requested. Go to www.makeoregonhistory.org to submit online.

#If you have any questions about the survey project you may email Kimberly Moreland, Oregon Black Pioneers, Project Manager at historic_places@qwestoffice.net or Kuri Gill, Oregon Heritage, Grants and Outreach Coordinator at Kuri.Gill@oregon.gov. For more information about the Oregon Black Pioneers please visit www.oregonblackpioneers.org. Additional information about SHPO can be found at www.oregonheritage.org.


The first African-American female pilot for the D.C. National Guard always wanted to fly

As a young girl growing up in Tennessee, Demetria “Dina” Elosiebo’s nights were filled with dreams of her soaring through the night sky, her four younger siblings giddily clinging to her back. Sometimes they reached 30 feet, other times 1,000 – depending on her faith that day.

“Ever since I was 7 or 8, I would have dreams about literally carrying my siblings on my back,” Elosiebo said. “And in my dreams, I was like flapping my wings like a chicken, and I could at some point carry two of them. But as they got bigger, I could only carry one. And I was like, ‘I’m going to have to do something about this.’”

Now, those long ago dreams of taking flight have become reality. Thirty-three-year-old Elosiebo recently graduated from Army flight school, becoming the first African-American female aviator in the District of Columbia National Guard. She joins an elite group; only 5 percent of the Army National Guard’s 5,763 pilots are women.

“It’s an honor to come behind so many people,” said Elosiebo, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

No one in her family was in the military or knew how to fly, but from an early age, Elosiebo knew she wanted to be a pilot.

So she started taking flying lessons at small aviation programs for children near her Memphis home. While visiting a flying group called the Memphis Blackhawks Aviation Association, her mother said, her then 12-year-old daughter learned a valuable lesson: Your gender doesn’t matter when it comes to flying a plane.

“I clearly remember her saying, ‘Oh, women can fly?’ said her mom, Renee Elosiebo. “And the pilot (who was a woman) said, ‘Of course they can.’”

That day, Elosiebo got to “co-pilot” the plane. And from then on she was “giddy” and “wanted to go back again and again.

“Most children say they want to do something when they’re younger, and then they change their desires many times,” Renee Elosiebo said. “But hers never changed — she wanted to fly.”


Brill, Phil! New York orch names first African-American principal

The great clarinetist Anthony McGill has made history by becoming the first African-American principal, or section leader, in the New York Philharmonic, effective this fall. His appointment is among several changes at the symphony reported this morning by The New York Times.

McGill and bassist Timothy Cobb were both poached from New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where they served as first chairs. The Philharmonic will announce several more hires in the coming months, including a violinist to replace outgoing concertmaster Glenn Dicterow.

Although the Philharmonic is regarded as the standard bearer of American orchestras and has recently updated its image with contemporary repertoire and multimedia staging, under the leadership of young conductor Alan Gilbert, it has made slow progress in terms of racial diversity. In 1962, violinist Sanford Allen became the first full-time African-American member, and there have been few people of color, other than Asians or Asian-Americans, since.

As I noted earlier this year, young black musicians are changing the face of classical music.


Documentary honors Jesse Owens, Archie Williams and other stars of 1936 Olympics

He is 92 years old and has been breaking racial barriers for most of his life, and he is about the best antidote you could ever find to the toxic rants of Donald Sterling. Not that Herb Douglas, the oldest living Olympic medalist, would make that claim himself. He’s too busy, and too productive, to let the likes of Sterling derail him, and the latest evidence is “The Renaissance Period of The African American In Sports,” a documentary that will premiere at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center on May 15.

Douglas is the executive producer of the 22-minute film, which focuses on how the exploits of nine African-American track and field stars in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin not only shredded Adolf Hitler’s Aryan supremacy theory, but had an even greater impact at home.

Douglas was a 14-year-old emerging football and track star in Pittsburgh when Hitler’s Olympics unfolded, a kid who read about the feats of the great Jesse Owens, Archie Williams and Pitt’s John Woodruff in the Pittsburgh Courier, perhaps the most influential African-American newspaper in the country then. In all, nine African-American track athletes hauled in 13 medals — four of them by Owens.

“It really motivated me,” said Douglas, who lives in Philadelphia. “It made us believe that we African-Americans — Negroes at the time — could do as well as anybody. We needed that. There were no African-Americans in baseball, football or basketball. We didn’t have any idols. Then those Games came and it changed everything.”

In introducing the film, Gabby Douglas, gymnastics star of the London Games in 2012 (and no relation to Herb), seconds the opinion, saying that “it’s upon the broad shoulders of these courageous pioneers that we all stand.”

Directed by Bob Lott, a filmmaker who goes back over 30 years with Douglas, the film intersperses footage of the medalists, including Owens, high jump gold medalist Cornelius Johnson and Woodruff, who won the 800 meters in one of the most stirring races in Olympic annals, with commentary from Harrison Dillard, a four-time gold medalist in 1948 and 1952; legendary hurdler Edwin Moses; and Cedric Jones, former NFL receiver and athletic director of the New York Athletic Club.



Fewer African Americans playing college baseball

Sacramento City College’s Jared James stepped into the batter’s box to face Cosumnes River College’s Josh Pigg during a recent game, an unusual moment for both sophomores.

It was just the third time in two years that James, an African American, faced a pitcher who also is African American. And one of the other times came against Pigg.

“You can’t help but notice,” James said. “It’s a very rare thing, and it’s a funny feeling.”

Much has been made about the decline of African Americans playing major-league baseball, which annually honors Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. The percentage of African Americans in the major leagues has dwindled from 19 percent in 1986 to 8.2 percent this season, far lower than the 76 percent of NBA players and 66 percent of NFL players who are African American.

The percentage is even lower in college baseball. Only 2.6 percent of NCAA Division I baseball players were African American in a 2011-12 survey by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, down from 6.9 percent in 2002. The same report noted that 57.2 percent of basketball players and 43.2 percent of football players in Division I were African American in 2011-12.

James and Pigg are among nine African Americans who played baseball at Sac City, Cosumnes River, American River, Sierra, Sacramento State and UC Davis this season.

“I really wasn’t aware of how few African Americans were playing until I got here,” said UC Davis second baseman Steven Patterson, one of the Aggies’ two African Americans along with center fielder Kevin Barker. “It’s pretty uncommon, especially in our (Big West) conference. It just motivates Kevin and myself to prove that we can play the game just as well.”

Even on baseball teams at traditional black colleges, African Americans often are in the minority.

Small-college power Winston-Salem in North Carolina, a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a student population that is 75 percent African American, has a baseball team that is a little more than 25 percent black. Chicago State, which played at Sacramento State earlier this month and has a school undergraduate enrollment that also is 75 percent African American, has five blacks on its 28-man roster.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/19/6417049/fewer-african-americans-playing.html#storylink=cpy

The First African-American Piano Manufacturer

At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn’t help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that wee­­kend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.

That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.

For Shadd, piano making is part of his birthright. His grandparents were musicians: His grandmother was a ragtime pianist in the South in the ’30s, and his grandfather invented (and performed on) a collapsible drum set. (He never patented it, a lesson his grandson learned.) Shadd’s father was himself a piano technician, restorer, builder and performer — as well as a trombonist. And Shadd’s aunt was the NEA Jazz Master pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn. A child prodigy, young Warren made his own concert debut at age 4.

Shadd Pianos are now in churches and concert venues across the U.S. — including the set of American Idol, where house keyboardist Wayne Linsey will play it on Wednesday night’s episode. On a recent visit to Warren Shadd’s home in a suburb of Washington, D.C. — a home that doubles as the Shadd Piano showroom — he spoke about his life and work.

Willard Jenkins: What sparked your original interest in pianos?

Warren Shadd: My father was the exclusive piano technician for the Howard Theatre, so I would go down there with him four times a week and see James Brown, Count Basie, Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Peggy Lee, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers … rehearsing. I’d see this all day long, every day. From the time I woke up, there were band rehearsals. Shirley Horn rehearsing in my basement with Billy Hart and Marshall Hawkins … We had pianos everywhere in my house, from the garage to the basement, sometimes even one of the upright pianos sitting in the kitchen, And musicians would come over to our house after the gig and play all night: Dude Brown, Bernard Sweetney, Steve Novosel, Roberta Flack …

My father would have me do little repairs on the piano. When he went on these piano jobs, he would take me with him to see what the whole thing was about … and I would never want to go. I just wanted to stay home and play the drums; just wanted to be Warren Shadd the drummer. Except when he said he was going to the Howard Theatre — I was in the car before he got there! I wanted to see all these cats rehearse, see the show … I met Grady Tate when I was about 6 years old, playing with Jimmy Smith, then went full circle and played with Jimmy Smith myself.

As I progressed and learned more about piano technology, I never aspired to; I just knew how to do it. I would say, ‘Piano is what I know, drums is who I am.’ As I went out there and toured with different acts, did a bunch of Broadway shows and got a little tired of the road, I learned how to tune, rebuild and restore pianos. I would take these pianos down to the nuts and bolts and build them back up just for fun, just for a hobby. I would take whole grand or upright pianos apart, build them back up with everything refinished — new strings, new soundboard, new keys, new ivories — for fun. And then my father would sell the piano. I was about 12, 13 when I started doing this.

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