Monthly Archives: October 2007

  • Barack Obama and John Edwards get another chance to go hard at Hillary tonight during yet another Democratic debate. They won’t be the only ones going after Clinton, but that focus on her (by both her Democratic rivals and the Republican candidates) only seems to reaffirm the perception that she’s the person to beat. Is the impact of any one of these debates diluted by their sheer number?
  • Students at Stanford Law are giving letter grades to law firms based on their diversity — how many women, minorities and openly gay attorneys they have. Some of the firms that received poor rankings took issues with the initiative, saying the grading didn’t make sense, and a professor at Hastings College said the lack of diversity at many firms suggested that the strongest relevant applicants were still white and Asian. On a somewhat related note, it’s been over a year since a black lawyer in private practice argues a case in front of the Supreme Court. An Associated Press article cited “continuing problems in recruiting and retaining blacks and other minorities at the top law firms; the rise of a small group of lawyers who focus on Supreme Court cases; the decline in civil rights cases that make it to the high court; and the court’s dwindling caseload.”
  • More legal stuff: The American Bar Association is saying again it wants a moratorium on executing prisoners sentenced to death.
  • Racially and religiously motivated attacks have gone up by 12 percent in the UK, according to the Ministry of Justice.
  • The Department of Education is delaying putting into place its new guidelines for the way schools classify students based on race and ethnicity.
  • Two Canadian grad students are peddling a skin-lightening cream that they intend to patent and sell to cosmetic companies. One of the researchers says he got the idea from India, where he’s from and where skin-lightening products do big business. (from
  • Those wacky ‘positive stereotypes’.

Hail to the Chief?

Chief Illiniwek, the athletic mascot of the University of Illinois who was scuttled and banned from campus in February, was allowed back for homecoming celebrations. The university on its decision to allow the Chief back: “The university values free speech and free expression and considers homecoming floats, decorations, costumes and related signage all representations of such personal expression. Therefore, Chancellor Herman has directed the Homecoming Committee to strike the existing policy from the homecoming float guidelines.”

Would it be hyperbolic to draw an analogy between this and, say, a bunch of white kids on campus performing in blackface? And what changed between the February decision to get rid of The Chief and the decision to revive him?

All The Noose That’s Fit To Print.


  • Between the Jena 6 and that Columbia University professor, nooses have been all over the news lately. NPR wonders if that’s due to a rise in racist incidents involving nooses, or a rise in their coverage.
  • There’s a pretty well-done profile on The Wire‘s David Simon in The New Yorker (spoiler alert for the folks who aren’t caught up). The question of how a white writer navigates the depiction of black characters has followed him and his work for years.
  • Bill Cosby, America’s Favorite Curmudgeon, applauds Dave Chappelle for walking away from his show.
  • Obama goes after Hillary on foreign policy. I’m increasingly interested in the dynamic between the two profoundly ambitious Democratic frontrunners, as Hillary starts to pull away. Does he have to watch his criticism of her in order to be her running mate down the road? Would Obama even deign to be her running mate? What were their relationship be like if one of them became president —- and the other remained in the Senate — after some really acrimonious primaries?

Mass. Governor endorses Obama

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick threw his endorsement behind longtime friend Barack Obama. The endorsement was seen by some as an opportunity for Obama to leverage his grassroots support in Massachusetts to garner votes in neighboring New Hampshire for the important early primaries. The Patrick speaks, people —- particularly young people —- listen.

But Obama seems to be losing steam using the same language of hope that catapulted Patrick to the Governor’s office in his own historic election. A growing number of Boston-area activists, mostly young professionals, say they are looking for Obama to share ideas with substance.

Tyler Perry: Hack. Drag Queen. Juggernaut.


I tried to sit through Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman last winter with my cousin; I almost bodied myself. Not content to let Steve Harris’s character simply be a dick, Perry made him an unfaithful husband who colluded with drug dealers to amass his fortune before literally tossing his loving, supportive wife (Kimberly Elise) out of his tacky monstrosity of a mansion to be with his new white girlfriend — with whom he fathered two kids. It’s that kind of movie.

Tyler Perry hears my complaints, and dabs his tears with large denomination bills. Why Did I Get Married? opened at #1, and did so without the stamp of approval from mainstream movie critics (who use all kinds of funny coded language when describing the film’s audience). Some of Perry’s fans have explicitly referred to the reviews of his films as racist.

The Boston Globe‘s Wesley Morris says that whatever you think of Tyler Perry, he isn’t going anywhere for awhile.