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Moving the race dialogue forward

JAZELLE HUNT | 2/3/2014, 7:05 a.m.
From left: Seattle Seahawks defensive cornerback Richard Sherman, Paula Deen and George Zimmerman Photo 1 by Damian Strohmeyer/AP; Photo 2 courtesy of her social media page; Photo 3 AP Files

Part two of the report attempts to move the race conversation forward by highlighting recent interventions and initiatives that challenge the narrow national conversation on racism. For example, multi-racial civil rights organization, Advancement Project, campaigned against the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse” pipeline, helping reverse the impact of zero-tolerance policies. Other featured initiatives include the film Fruitvale Station and the Migration is Beautiful art series, which recognizes the humanity of the nation’s migrant workers.

Both parts of the report offer recommendations for including systemic awareness in analyses, and improving the conversation around racism overall. Part one offers suggestions for individuals and media professionals: Expanding one’s understanding of racism; focusing on actions and impacts instead of attitudes and intentions; examining race within conversations on class, gender, sexuality, etc.; and featuring the humanity and leadership of people of color.

Part two’s recommendations are for those in the trenches of anti-racist activism. These include the importance of framing issues properly (Fruitvale Station, for example, reclaims Oscar Grant’s story by focusing on his humanity); connecting individual experiences to systematic problems; and alerting media outlets and professions to their racial bias blind spots. Apollon asserts that these recommendations are not just for activists or media professionals, but also for anyone who sees racism in media or in their daily lives.

The report also points out the near-absence of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in discussions of racism and race. Collectively, these groups (not including multiracial Americans) are 5.6 percent of the population, according to 2010 Census data. Yet only 2.36 percent of all the content studied covered these communities.

A video produced by Jay Smooth, activist and Race Forward video and multimedia producer, accompanies the report. In it, Smooth explains the report and its takeaway points. In its first two days, the video garnered more than 39,000 YouTube views. Apollon hopes it continues to reach as many people as possible, and sparks accurate conversations around race.

“It’s important to push back against all the ‘post-racial’ and ‘colorblindness’ rhetoric we hear. Because being silent about it is not going to eliminate the challenges we face,” he said. “Insert race into conversations about class, gender, sexuality. Engage with us and each other about our definition of racism and the deficiencies in our racial discourse.”