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JHan's Journal
JHan's Journal
November 27, 2018

The Media isn't Polarized, it has a Right Wing Cancer.

What’s the difference between right-wing media and left-wing media? Or between conservatives and liberals in general? If you have an answer, how do you know that your answer is objective, rather than just a reflection of your own bias? (As John Locke observed more than three centuries ago: “Everyone is orthodox to himself.”) Or if you think there is no difference, couldn’t your both-sides-ism itself be a bias? Wouldn’t it be odd if Right and Left had exactly the same levels of reasonability or factuality?

"Network Propaganda. In Network Propaganda, (whose text and illustrations are available free online , as well as for sale as a book or e-book) Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts go to great lengths to produce an objective look at how news travels through the different regions of the US political universe.

It starts with data.

We collected and analyzed two million stories published during the 2016 presidential election campaign, and another 1.9 million stories about the Trump presidency during its first year. We analyze patterns of interlinking between the sites to understand the relations of authority and credibility among publishers high and low, and the tweeting and Facebook sharing practices of users to understand attention patterns to these media.

What they found overall looks like this:

This aggregate view of the open web link economy during the 2016 election period shows a marked difference between the right and everything that is not the right. There is a clear overlap and interaction between the left, center-left, and center media outlets. These are all centered on the cluster of professional, mainstream journalism sites: the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and Politico form a basin of attraction for outlets ranging from the editorially conservative Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Business Week, or USA Today, through the liberally oriented MSNBC. Zooming in, we see that the right side of the spectrum, by contrast, has Breitbart and Fox News as its basin of attraction, has almost no overlap with the center, and is sharply separated from the rest of the map. The other leading sites on the right include the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, the Daily Mail, and the Washington Examiner. There is almost no center-right, and what there is, anchored around the National Review, is distinct from the set of sites anchored by Fox and Breitbart on the right. The Huffington Post, the Guardian, and MSNBC receive the largest number of media inlinks on the left, joined by Mother Jones, Slate, Vox, and Salon.

Dynamics. This structure produces two distinct dynamics on the left and right. People of all persuasions like to have their prior opinions reinforced, and so we are all susceptible to clickbait (fantastic headlines that appeal to our biases, but have no real substance) and fake news (made-up or grossly exaggerated stories that we want to believe). So both kinds of disinformation are constantly being produced on the extreme Left and Right alike. The difference is what happens then.

"there is ample supply of and demand for false hyperpartisan narratives on the left. The difference is that the audience and hyperpartisan commercial clickbait fabricators oriented toward the left form part of a single media ecosystem with center, center-left, and left-wing sites that are committed to journalistic truth-seeking norms. Those norm-constrained sites, both mainstream and net-native, serve as a consistent check on dissemination and validation of the most extreme stories when they do emerge on the left, and have no parallels in the levels of visibility or trust that can perform the same function on the right."

In other words: False stories that come from the Left drift towards the center and get debunked. And that’s usually the end of them. Sites on the far Left know that a lot of their audience also listens to NPR or reads The New York Times. Even if a story has to make it all the way to the center-right (The Wall Street Journal, say, or National Review) before it gets shot down, the correction will filter back, making left-wing sites look bad if they keep repeating the false information.

Nothing similar happens on the Right.

Dynamics on the right tend to reinforce partisan statements, irrespective of their truth, and to punish actors—be they media outlets or politicians and pundits—who insist on speaking truths that are inconsistent with partisan frames and narratives dominant within the ecosystem.

The piece further explores the dynamics of the 2016 election,
Articles about Clinton in The New York Times and Washington Post often had scandalous headlines that were walked back by details far down the column. Such articles were frequently cited on the Right (as NYT and WaPo stories seldom are) to validate an anti-Clinton narrative.

Consider where the actual balance-of-scandals tilted: the Trump sexual harassment stories had numerous first-person witnesses, while the Trump University fraud eventually required a $25 million settlement. Supposed scandals about the Clinton Foundation were almost entirely conspiracy theories, while the largely uninvestigated Trump Foundation is currently facing a lawsuit calling for its dissolution for self-dealing. And yet this was the balance of coverage:

"The Right needs this kind of mainstream cooperation, because the number of people who live inside the right-wing bubble is somewhere iin the range of 25-30% of the population — not nearly enough to win elections."

November 27, 2018

Her Ex-Boyfriend Harassed Her Online for Months. She Took Him to Court and Won $6.4 Million.

The guy is a complete sociopath but what really stands out is little structural support she received while he tried to completely destroy her life.

After about a month of dating, David went home to Virginia for the holidays. He called to catch up and then dropped the news: Things weren’t great there and he had decided to move back to help his family with their business. “I’m not coming back,” he said, and I was shocked. We never officially discussed entering a long-distance relationship, but we just kept right on talking at our normal pace. It wasn’t ideal, but school was so strenuous that I thought the lesser time commitment might actually be preferable.

We ended up talking all the time. We’d text throughout the day, and when I got home, from classes we’d Skype. Then, my first narrow glimpse into the future: I started to feel that sometimes David was disrespectful of me and my time. He would call every morning around 8 a.m. on the East Coast because he wanted to wish me good morning or just to talk—he always wanted to know everything I would be doing that day—but it was 5 a.m. in California and I needed my sleep. When I brought it up or playfully complained about the wake-up call, he didn’t take the criticism well. He’d deny it was a weird thing to do or shut down entirely. The daily ring of my phone at dawn did start to feel overwhelming, but I told myself he was just being supportive. In some ways, knowing everything about each other’s days made it feel like he was right there beside me.


But then I got a new request: He began pressing me to send him sexy photos. We were long distance and wanted to keep the spark going, so I understood the reason for the ask. But I was really uncomfortable at the idea of taking nude pics of myself. It’s one thing to undress in front of somebody—that’s in the moment and I’m giving permission—but a pic allows access to my nakedness whenever someone wants it and gives that person control. It all made me feel really vulnerable.

But I did trust David. So I sent a photo: fully clothed where you could sort of see the shape of my butt. It was my way of complying. But he goaded me on. We couldn’t have sex physically, so he’d say, “Don’t you trust me? Why don’t you want to make me happy?”


As my spring semester wound down, we started talking about me going to visit him in Virginia during the summer. He was acting a little weird, though, sort of noncommittal as to when would be good. I felt like he was holding back. I was frustrated, but didn’t give it a ton of thought—finals were coming up.I really didn’t see it coming when David dumped me over text message at the end of April. I shot back a text: “I can’t believe you’re doing this. I just want you to know that this is your choice, not mine.”

A few days later, he texted but I didn’t respond. I didn't want to get caught up in breakup drama. He called me that night, and this time, I answered. He wasn’t speaking clearly and sounded a little buzzed. He started calling me a bunch of names, telling me what a shitty person I was. No one had ever talked to me that way. He accused me of cheating on him (I was not). He was rambling. I told him I had to go.

That’s when he made the threat: “Fuck you, fuck this—it will take an act of God for you to make it through school without killing yourself.”

When I went to bed at midnight, I had no idea of the hell I would wake up to. I got up around 7 a.m. to learn that an OKCupid profile with my name and photos had been created—almost like a parody version of my original profile, except with more sexual innuendo in the bio. I found out because I had received a text message from a stranger, continuing a conversation I didn’t understand.

“By the way, that’s just my sister in the picture!” the stranger said as an opener. I wrote back, “Excuse me? Who is this?” He explained that we’d been talking on OKCupid. He was seemingly nice about it when I explained there had been a misunderstanding.

Within the hour, I started getting more and more texts from strange numbers. Around five or six new numbers texted me every hour.

I asked each one for more info, and eventually, one guy sent me screenshots of “our” online messages. I knew right away it was David. The exchanges had a certain syntax and grammar that sounded like him.

The screenshots showed the profile was getting worse: My default photo was now a pic of a dildo. Then there were photos added of me in lingerie. I started getting tons of dick pics, still from numbers I didn’t know. Maybe 20 different penises appeared in my phone. That night, one of the messages was from a guy who claimed to live close by and to be on his way to my home. I was terrified. Thankfully, he didn't show up.

I thought I can fix this. I contacted OKCupid, and they were actually great—they removed the profile and blocked David’s IP address. But it took them 24 hours to respond to my first email and by then he’d moved on to other sites.

He then created a profile of her on Xamster with videos she sent him...she found out via a private message because he included her personal information under these videos:

On Friday morning, I got a text message from some random person saying they’d seen me on XHamster. I looked it up and realized it’s similar to a porn site where users can interact with each other. There I found two videos of me masturbating. The descriptions listed my real name, my grad school, and phone number, and also included links to my Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The irony was that had I not heard my phone “ping” when I received that random message, I might not have woken up for my exam that morning. I peeled myself off the floor and tried to carry on.

I took the exam, but when I was finished, the administrator of the test told me a professor needed to see me. The building was deserted—it was the end of the semester, and everyone was off for the summer. I went to his office, and he stumbled over his words as he tried to explain that there was something bad going on.

He informed me that David had emailed the two videos of me masturbating to some of my classmates. They had been forwarded around and wound up with this professor. I later learned that David had used some technology to impersonate the grad school dean’s email and distributed the videos to students that way.

I thought I couldn’t be more mortified than I already was, and yet every hour it got worse. It was like Whack-a-Mole dealing with every crisis and each hit represented another layer of my dignity being stripped away. I was indescribably paranoid. I sat in my apartment toggling between the websites and the profiles and the dick pics and the text messages.

One of my professors told me that he knew someone in law enforcement in Virginia. That detective got in touch with David and basically told him to knock it off. I know this happened because David left me a voicemail saying, “Hey, I spoke to the detective. If you have something to say to me, grow up and say it to me directly.”

David’s campaign lasted for months.

I connected with another lawyer who suggested something different: file a copyright.

Sites comprised of user-generated content, like YouTube or Reddit, have policies where they’re not responsible for what is uploaded. But if you have a copyright, like on a film, and a user uploads your film, you as the creator can ask the site to take it down. They have a set amount of time to comply or they’re subject to a liability.


The next year, in 2014, California finally passed revenge porn legislation, and I was able to file a suit in federal court as a Jane Doe. A special law firm, the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, offered to represent me pro bono. We filed in December 2014. David didn’t show up to any of the court dates, but his attorneys did, and the process extended on for years.

In April 2018, a federal judge awarded me $6.45 million for copyright infringement and emotional distress. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. The amount of money was attention-grabbing, but it wasn’t the most important part for me—I was just so grateful to have a final document in my hands stating that what David did was wrong.


I know some people blame me, but I blame him. These days, I am admittedly far more guarded about my own identity and my sexual privacy. I still struggle, but as time passes, it gets easier. I am strong. I am resilient. And while it may not always feel like it, deep down I know I am stronger than what happened to me.


November 23, 2018

"The Internet Doesn't Need Civility, It Needs Ethics"

The civility debate sidesteps how false assumptions about harm online, coupled with the affordances of digital media, encourage toxicity

The Civility Trap

When used as a political rallying point, appeals to civility are often a trap, particularly when forwarded in response to critical, dissenting speech. Sidestepping the content of a critique in order to police the tone of that critique—a strategy employed with particular vigor during the Kavanaugh hearings, and which frequently factors into hand-wringing over anti-racist activism—serves to falsey equate civility with politeness, and politeness with the democratic ideal. In short: you are being civil when you don’t ruffle my feathers, which is to say, when I don’t have to hear your grievance.

Besides their tendency to be adopted as bad faith, rhetorical sleights-of-hand, calls for civility have another, perhaps more insidious, consequence: deflecting blame. It’s everybody else’s behavior, they’re the ones who need to start acting right. They’re the ones who need to control themselves. In these instances, “We need to restore civility” becomes an exercise in finger pointing. You’re the one who isn’t being civil. Indeed, the above NPR survey explicitly asked respondents to identify who was to blame for the lack of civility in Washington, with four possible choices: President Trump, Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Congress, or the media. Whose fault is it: this is how the civility question tends to be framed.

Ethics do not mean keeping your voice down. Ethics do not mean keeping feathers unruffled. Ethics mean taking full and unqualified responsibility for the things you choose to do and say.

We certainly maintain that the behavior of others can be a problem, or outright dangerous. We certainly maintain that some people need to control themselves, particularly given the increasingly glaring link between violent political rhetoric and violent action. Those who trade in antagonism, in manipulation, in symbolic violence and physical violence, warrant special, unflinching condemnation.

But few of us are truly blameless. In order to mitigate political toxicity and cultivate healthier communities, we must be willing to consider how, when, and to what effect blame whips around and points the finger squarely at our own chests.

We do this not by focusing merely on what’s civil, certainly when civility is used as a euphemism for tone-policing, or when it’s employed to pathologize and silence social justice activists (as if loudly calling out injustice and bigotry is an equivalent sin to that injustice and bigotry). We do this by focusing on what’s ethical. A more robust civility will stem from that shift in emphasis. Civility without solid ethical foundations, in contrast, will be as useful as a bandaid slapped over a broken bone.

As we conceive of them, online ethics foreground the full political, historical, and technological context of online communication; contend with the repercussions of everyday online behaviors; and avoid harming others. Ethics do not mean keeping your voice down. Ethics do not mean keeping feathers unruffled. Ethics mean taking full and unqualified responsibility for the things you choose to do and say.
November 21, 2018

Our Responsibility, to Ourselves and Others, to Break Our Silences

“That visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”

Lorde is writing shortly after her doctor discovered a tumor that turned out to be benign but forced her to confront her mortality in the agonizing three-week period of uncertainty. She reflects on the sobering urgency into which the experience shook her:

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger… Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.

Turning to the audience — and, across space and time, to us — Lorde issues a clarion call for introspection:

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? With an urgent eye to the necessity that we “not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own,” Lorde concludes:

"We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."

That oppressive silence and its most potent antidote are what the great Caribbean-American poet, essayist, feminist, lesbian icon, and anti-war, civil rights, and human rights activist Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934–November 17, 1992) explores in “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” — a galvanizing short paper delivered at Chicago’s Modern Language Association in 1977, later included in Lorde’s indispensable anthology Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
November 18, 2018

From dolls to magazine covers: how early black designers made their mark

In a new exhibition, the work of African American designers in Chicago is celebrated from editorial and product design to the first black-founded ad agency

The first known African American female cartoonist was Jackie Ormes, who not only penned cartoon strips throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but designed a black doll called the Patty-Jo doll, which was released in 1947.

Patty-Jo, a precursor to Barbie, which came in 1959, was based on a cartoon strip character of the same name, had an extensive wardrobe with preppy shoes, winter coats and ball gowns – and had the brains to go with it.

In a cartoon strip from 1948, Patty-Jo asks a white woman: “How’s about getting our rich Uncle Sam to put good public schools all over so we can be trained fit for any college?”

The doll is on view in a new exhibition in Chicago, African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Featuring more than 50 design works, it highlights prominent black figures who worked between 1900 and 1980 in graphic design, editorial and product design, billboard ads, and created the first black-founded ad agency.

“Our thesis is that Chicago is a special center for design for African Americans because it was one of the major sites in the north they came to from the rural south in mid-20th century,” said Schulman. “It has a large, vibrant and politically powerful design community.”

Among the works in the exhibit is an original Patty-Jo doll designed and produced by Ormes, who was a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier, though she lived in Chicago. The doll, in a yellow dress, was highly coveted by African American girls, though it was so expensive, parents had to pay in installments.

“The doll was noteworthy for its quality. Its facial features were hand-painted and designed from life-like materials,” said Schulman. “It was a role model for any child.”

It ties into the cartoons Ormes built around the Patty-Jo character. “She was a beautiful fictional character who was known for making witty, astute remarks about the world around African American middle-class people in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Schulman. “The doll was in production for 10 years, it had an extraordinary presence and power, and today, they’re collectibles holding an important place in American doll-making.”

Among the other designers in the exhibit, there are advertisements by Charles C Dawson, who designed the graphics promoting Slick Black, black hair color tins from the 1930's. Dawson was also part of the New Negro art movement, which surfaced around the same time as the Harlem Renaissance black arts movement in New York.


Also on view is a comic called Home Folks by Jay Jackson, a cartoonist for the Chicago Defender who won several awards for his cartoons made during the second world war. A panel on view called Debt and Taxes shows one character complaining: “What do they mean ‘income tax’? It should be ‘outgo’ tax!”

“It’s a masterpiece,” said Schulman. “It shows young, middle-class African Americans in a wonderful mid-century modern interior talking about how expensive things are, the dream of prosperity that was commonplace as a selling technique in the 1950s, this mass consumer market and postwar prosperity. In popular media, you don’t always see African Americans taking part of a stream of plenty in the 1950s.”

But ambition aside, it was tough for African Americans to break into the advertising industry, not to mention navigating the office culture once they were there. “It’s really about working in a field with so few African Americans designers in it,” said Schulman. “There are images that show how frustrating it could be in such a tiny minority in this field – there is one image of Eugene Winslow in his office with commentary that shows he was unhappy being a supervisor of an all-white staff who did not appreciate having a black supervisor.”
November 15, 2018

Study: Resilience to discrimination and ethnic-racial identity in minority children.

Minority children with a strong sense of ethnic-racial identity are more resilient to harms of discrimination, study finds

Children as young as 7 years old are able to detect racial and ethnic discrimination aimed at them, according to a recent study.

But children who are raised with a strong sense of their ethnic-racial identity are more resilient to the psychological harm that such discrimination inflicts, the study also found.

“These findings highlight the importance of reducing discrimination and its pernicious effects, as well as promoting a positive sense of ethnic-racial identity and belonging to partially buffer children in the interim,” said Tuppett Yates, one of the study’s authors and a developmental psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, in a released statement.

The study was published in the journal Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Earlier research

As background information in the study points out, the negative effects of discrimination on human development have been documented many, many times in prior studies. Much of that research has been with adults, but studies involving adolescents have found that young people who report more experiences with racial or ethnic discrimination are at greater risk of depression, substance abuse and risky sexual behaviors. They are also less likely to be engaged with and successful in school.

Only a few such studies have examined the issue in children as young as 10, but those findings have been similar. One study, which involved African-American boys aged 10 to 15, found that children’s reports of ethnic-racial discrimination were linked with behavioral problems, feelings of hopelessness and poor self-concepts.

The current study is one of the first, however, to look at how children younger than 10 perceive experiences of discrimination and how those perceptions affect their development over time.

Limitations and implications
The study comes with several caveats. It involved a relatively small sampling of children, and it also depended on the children’s own reports of discrimination. Also, the study included a large number of children from multiple ethnic-racial groups, and about 10 percent of those children were unable to identify all the groups to which they belonged (based on information provided by a parent or other caregiver).

Still, the study’s results support the findings from research on older children. Furthermore, as Yates and Marcela point out in their paper, the results might be even more pronounced if the study were to be done today.

“The current data were collected between 2011 and 2013, which was well before the widespread public discourse regarding racially motivated violence that has risen to prominence over the past few years,” they explain.

“Recent events and media coverage may serve to increase children’s experiences of discrimination and/or their awareness of discriminatory experiences directly via media exposure or indirectly via parental socialization in response to these violent events,” the researchers add. “Thus, the current climate magnifies the significance of our findings, which support prior assertion that exposure to ethnic-racial bias and discrimination at an early age has negative implications for later development.”

“I think it’s pretty convincing evidence that young children are experiencing and encoding experiences with discrimination in their schools, in their peer groups, and these experiences have significant negative implications for their health and wellbeing,” Yates told Claudia Boyd-Barrett, a reporter for the California Health Report.
November 15, 2018

The resilience of Barbados counters Trump's shithole remarks.

And not Barbados alone.

Rarely stated so bluntly, this racist trope is widespread. As always, Trump gives vulgar expression to quiet prejudice, making him sound “honest” to about 40 per cent of Americans no matter how many lies he tells. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted after a similar revelation last year, Trump’s straight-shooting bigotry is one thing his fans love about him.Those who don’t love him need to fight back with specific examples from the real world. Time and again, we need to highlight the big, complex reality that Trump and many of his supporters call “fake news.” Otherwise, his twisted version of the truth will continue to displace objective reality.

Ground zero for slavery and racism

Settled by the English in 1627, Barbados became one of the most brutal and profitable slave regimes in human history. An astonishing 600,000 Africans came in chains to Barbados, about five per cent of all the victims of the Atlantic slave trade. Smaller numbers of Irish and Native American captives were also “Barbadoz’d,” exiled to this early jewel in the British crown.

Few of them survived for long.

The people spent their days under the tropical sun, cutting and dragging eight-foot canes to cattle-drawn sugar mills. There the stalks were crushed between heavy rollers and boiled in huge cauldrons. Many slaves had their hands caught in the rollers; others, exhausted by 24-hour shifts, fell into the cauldrons. Dental records show that the Black majority nearly starved each winter when food supplies were scarce. (Sugar monoculture left little room for corn, squash or yams.) Malnutrition led to frequent miscarriages and stillbirths. Babies crawled around in soils full of worms and tetanus, leading to catastrophic death rates for infants.

As early as 1661, well before Black slavery had taken hold in North America, the Barbados assembly passed a code describing all “negroes” as dangerous brutes, liable to the same kinds of discipline —branding, whipping, gelding —as livestock. This code was later adopted by the British colonies in Jamaica and South Carolina, and Barbadian slaves were sold to buyers as far away as Boston.


Transition to peaceful stability

Most “Bajans,” as the islanders are known, valued honest work, humility and forgiveness. Gradually and painfully, they wrested political power away from the old planter elite, forming strong unions during the Great Depression and finally breaking away from British rule in 1967.

Today, Barbados is a democracy that combines British and Bajan traditions of parliamentary supremacy, the rule of law and social justice. Prime Minister Mia Mottley leads the Barbados Labour Party, which prevailed over the Democratic Labour Party in this spring’s elections. She is the first woman to serve as prime minister. This is not to deny the nation’s many social problems, especially since the collapse of the sugar industry during the 1980s and because of the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Rather, it is to recognize Barbados as an example of human endurance and solidarity within a pitiless world.

So watch what you say about “sh—thole countries,” Mr. Trump. At the present hour, tiny Barbados inspires as much hope as the mighty United States.

November 15, 2018

The Secret Network of Black Teachers Behind the Fight for Desegregation

Missed this a few months ago.

For 25 years, the Emory University professor Vanessa Siddle Walker has studied and written about the segregated schooling of black children. In her latest book, The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, Walker tells the little-known story of how black educators in the South—courageously and covertly—laid the groundwork for 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education and weathered its aftermath.

The tale is told primarily through the life of Horace Tate, an acclaimed Georgia classroom teacher, principal, and one-time executive director of the Georgia Teachers and Education Association (GTEA), an organization for black educators founded in 1878. Later in his career, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky; at the time, Georgia still banned black students from state doctoral programs. Walker first met Tate in 2000. Over the course of the next two years, he told her about clandestine meetings among and outreach to influential black educators, lawyers, and community members tracing back to the 1940s. He also revealed black teachers’ secret and skillful organizing to demand equality and justice for African American children in Southern schools. After Tate’s death in 2002 at the age of 80, Walker continued a 15-year exploration, relying on Tate’s extensive archives to expose the full picture of how black educators mounted civil rights battles—in the years preceding and immediately following the Brown decision—to protect the interests of black children.

Walker: To overturn Plessy v. Ferguson—the 1896 Supreme Court case upholding the separate-but-equal doctrine—you have to have access to the people in the South. But if you’re in the NAACP’s national office in New York, how do you know who in the South will be a plaintiff? How do you launch a movement when you can’t really work well in the South because of the hostile climate? At the same time, black teachers in the South have data on school conditions and teaching resources and they know the plaintiffs, but they can’t let it be known that they’re part of the movement or they’ll lose their jobs. So it’s a perfect partnership. Black educators called themselves hidden provocateurs—these are the people figuring out, on a local level, how to provoke change and maneuver to get better facilities and more funding. To have it publicly known would undermine what they were trying to do. The generations of black people who followed learned the script that they wanted us to know.

Anderson: Black citizens who challenged Jim Crow segregation by rejecting racial subordination faced violence, intimidation, and economic ruin. Talk about the personal and emotional costs borne by black educators who were fighting for black children during the civil-rights era.

Walker: There are obvious losses—black teachers were fired and demoted. Wonderful black principals were put in charge of running school buses. They were humiliated because they had once been leaders in their communities. Some of them had to relocate and move north. But there are costs that we forget—like losing control over what black children learned.

The black educators taught math and science and everything else as best as they could with the limited resources that they had. You also saw the infusion of blackness in their classrooms. They were teaching black children how to be resilient in a segregated society. They seeded the civil-rights movement with this curriculum.

Those of us who reflect on the civil-rights era naturally think about people losing jobs and status. But to me just as important is understanding that they lost the chance to instill in another generation the ability to think about racial progress. We lost things that were foundational. We have to know the breadth of the costs, to understand both how we got to present-day conditions and how to think about moving forward.

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About JHan

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.
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