Friday, December 23, 2005

Delays, the Daily, Tookie, and Holidays

So I have been meaning to post, but there has been too much on my plate as of late. Though my posting hasn’t been happening, the world has continued moving. Well kinda, the TWU helped put NY on hault for a minute. But due to public pressure we all gotta make like Tribe Called Quest and keep it moving. So let’s get to it.

Last time I checked in we were all watching the Daily to see what their response would be to the controversy surrounding Michelle Bien’s cartoon. Word is that Bien has left the Daily staff, but I haven’t found verification of this on their site and her cartoon ran as recently as last week. The editor published his view on the situation. Nothing I didn’t expect. He strategically attempts to rely on the first ammendment. No one attempted to curtail free speech, but people did ask the Daily to be cognizant of the effects that their materials could and do have. There is no need to "force" the Daily staff to all support affirmative action, but their writers, artists, and editors should be able to justify their decisions and deal with their repurcussions.

Speaking of changing times, Pesnick makes sure to refer everyone to his Multicultural Commission.
In February, I formed a commission of editors and writers on the Daily’s staff to examine the work environment at the paper and the perceptions members of multicultural communities have of the Daily.
Their findings are here. Once again, I’m underwhelmed. I don’t think they’re off-base, I just don’t think we learn anything really new. I do have some questions about the Daily Commission though:
1) Is a commission of staff reporters the best assessment of the Daily?
2) Why was the commission’s identity not easily available to the public?
3) What type of influence or power does this commission have on the Daily?
As a policy wonk these are the kind of questions that continue to swirl in my head.

After the commission’s report, there was another cartoon run that raised some issues. The “Legacy Bitches” cartoon was, I am told, supposed to be a pro-affirmative action cartoon that attacked the concept of legacy. Instead of commenting on the cartoon, I’d rather comment on the political landscape. Isn’t it odd that right on the heels of a controversy that the Daily editorials staff chose to publish such an … ambiguous cartoon? Maybe it’s just me…

Aight, well that is enough of the Daily for this post. Be on the look out for my in-depth commentary on the Daily boycott of a couple of years ago and other folks thoughts on the Daily situation.

The Governator did not grant Stan Tookie Williams clemency. In the wake of his execution I learned a lot of folks that I knew were behind him. Maybe too many of us were silent. Maybe it’s na├»ve to believe that the “corrections” system believes in correcting behaviors, attitudes, or ideologies of Black men.

And as I close this post, someone sent me a link to this video… hilarious! Clearly finals drove people insane here. Over the next couple of days I’ll be trying to get some rest and relaxation back East, so whatever happens in Michigan … can stay in Michigan. If I get bored I’ll post my annual Best of BAM. Catch you on the flip.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Help Wanted

Today in a fit of procrastination and contemplation I realized that I need help with this website. For the past year www.blackatmichigan.com has been reduced to the BlackBlog. It's time for a change

I am looking for someone who is a "design wizard" or at least a "design apprentice", lol, I'm funny. I have some site ideas but have neither the time nor dedication to carry them through. If you're out there and interested in contributing to this virtual endeavor contact me at blackatmichigan@hotmail.com. When we talk, we can discuss your "handsome reward."

Also, I've been kicking around for some time the idea of adding another blogger/columnist, I'm not 100 percent sure on this one, but still interested in finding out if there are folks interested in contributing. Once again, drop me an email.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Daily Boycott? Jury of your peers? Nope!

ANOTHER DAILY BOYCOTT??? Not likely. But that's not what the Daily's article title would lead you to believe, "NAACP considers boycotting." The article then goes on to state,
"Fair [2nd Vice President] would not comment on whether the group is considering a boycott or what other actions NAACP will take against the Daily."

Now that's funny, so I may not have my PhD yet, but I can read decently well. The reason this is so interesting to me is that if Fair gave the reporter no indication of action then the title could have been "NAACP considers joining Daily staff in response to cartoon" or how about "NAACP has concerns about Daily's treatment of minorities" or "NAACP plans to host carnival on diag." Anyone of these titles is possible but instead boycott is used.

Why does this matter, you ask? And you should. Because the past Daily Boycott left a bitter taste in a lot of people's mouths. The boycott was poorly planned and executed, but I think it did have some positive results (if you want more commentary on what the boycotts did in my eyes, I'll post it later). Since its planning and execution failed a couple of years ago, people are apprehensive to endorse another boycott. So how do you address concerns of a group critiquing you while delegitmizing their claim? Give them a headline with a strong amount of stigma attached. So throughout the day, numerous students will glance the cover of the Daily as they usually do and think, "Oh no, another boycott, I'm against that" and continue on with their day. Consider me a conspiracy theorist or a political strategist, but do send congrats to the Daily, even Sun-tzu would be proud.

I've also recently been visiting the Daily editor's Blog. Jason has been posting about the Daily's plan of redress, another smart move. But he recently decided to change the dates on which his response to the controversy would come. I hope he doesn't already have his response ready, that would mean he wasn't considering everyone's voices. On his blog he also mentions the Multicultural Commission, I ask him a bunch of questions about it in the comments section of his post and get some answers . We will see if the commission has any leverage to create change at the Daily (more on that later).

I'm saying all this so that readers realize that strategy is important in any disagreement. Diplomacy wins many battles. Even Michelle Bien the author of the original comic has joined the "can't we all just get along" parade. But change is a slow process. As NAACP and other bodies respond to the concerns of the Daily, I wonder how it will be portrayed. Most people get there image of a thing through second and third hand information, not primary participation. This information forms opinions and determines next moves.

And while we were all sleeping, the Michigan Supreme court recently issued an important decision on jury pools. The MSC suggests that jury selection should not consider race, sex, religion or nationality. The idea, again, is one of colorblindness, though the problem is that many groups are under-represented when a "jury of peers" is composed. What do you think of the ruling?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cartoons, HBCU Activism, and Tookie




So of course I'm a huge fan of the Michigan Daily. Of course they publish really accurate and insightful pieces. Of course I'm lying. The cartoon to the right was published on Wednesday. Nice job Michelle Bean!



There is a nice letter to the editor by Lisa Bakale-Wise that breaks down why the cartoon is ridiculous and inaccurate.


There is a cartoon to the editor response from Meisha Jihan Williams in Thursday's paper. It's pretty funny, I hope you all can see the image cause the Daily digital image was too pixelated to post.







Hey, where is that multicultural comission when you need them? Oh, here's the answer... kinda.

Hampton University is really in the spotlight these days among progressive communities. I definitely do not think the students should be expelled, but I would not be suprised if they were. Its hard for many people, particularly those who did not attend HBCUs,to understand and deal with that fact most HBCUs have conservative administrations while their student bodies are generally progressive. And I do not mean conservative administrations in the sense that we usually talk about at U of M, trust me, ya'll don't know conservativism. I've always understood HBCUs conservativism as closely tied to their financial donations. Since HBCUs are so financially strapped they have little choice but to present themselves as traditional and attempt to keep their institutions running. It will be interesting to see how Hampton responds to pressure from progressive communities in the long run. Part of the advantage of the internet is quick communication, so many more people found out about this incident than other similar incidents that I heard about in the past. I'll keep you posted.

Update: The seven students were not expelled, but 5 of them will do some form of community service.

Save Tookie! In a couple of days the Governator will hear the appeal for clemency in Stan "Tookie" Williams' case. Tookie co-founded the Crips and is serving a life sentence with a death penalty. His prior appeals have failed, the most recent attempt at appeal based evidence issues was denied by the California Supreme Court. This appeal however is based on his work as anti-gang, anti-violence advocate. I think the case is important because it speaks to the idea of reform within prison and whether America is interested in seeing people reformed, I'm not too hopeful for the outcome.