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A Tribute to an Intrepid Role Model

January 16, 2015

500 urged to shine a light, like Michel du Cille; after "Tell Me More," Michel Martin in demand as a speaker; Oakland Tribune takes Oscar diversity issue to next level; Rice describes how government pressures journalists; journalists no longer need U.S. permission to visit Cuba; CNN chief consulted with Muslim employees on Charlie Hebdo; Native Americans most likely to be shot by police; is outrage at Western media on Boko Haram misdirected?; N.Y. Times asks help on Gordon Parks mystery (1/16/15)

500 Urged to Shine a Light, Like Michel du Cille

Is Outrage at Western Media on Boko Haram Misdirected?

Karen Attiah, the Washington Post's Opinions deputy digital editor, wrote Friday for the Post:

"'Why did the world ignore Boko Haram’s Baga attacks?

"'Terrorists killed 2,000 people in Nigeria. So why didn't the world care?

"'Boko Haram may have just murdered 2,000 people — so why aren't we talking about it?'" 

"In the past few days or so, I've seen a deluge of headlines very similar to the above. As someone who is both a journalist and a person with direct roots on the African continent, I understand the sentiment behind the headlines. Western media have a long and torrid history of treating Africa as a diseased, dirty and violent place in stories about the continent.

"Let's be honest: Sometimes Western journalists manage the spectacular feat of erasing African people from stories about Africa. Remember when '60 Minutes' went to Liberia to report on Ebola efforts and failed to interview a single Liberian on camera? Its report was prime example of what journalist Howard French calls 'Africa without Africans.'

"So this is not to absolve any journalist in the West reporting or writing on the continent of their duty to tell balanced and accurate stories. That said, in the wake of the Baga massacre, my current anger isn't toward ABC or CNN. My frustration is directed squarely at Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

"We should all be infinitely more incensed by the Nigerian leadership's lack of political will to come up with a comprehensive solution to Boko Haram's murderous assault on Nigerian citizens than about whether a major U.S network has temporarily helicoptered its crew into the country. . . ."

(Credit: Gordon Parks, Courtesy, Gordon Parks Foundation via New York Times)

N.Y. Times Asks Help on Gordon Parks Mystery

"The image is striking: A stone-faced African-American woman in a spotless maid's uniform cradles a white toddler while a stylishly dressed white woman sits nearby. Gordon Parks took the picture at the Atlanta airport in the spring of 1956,"James Estrin wrote Monday for the New York Times "Lens" blog.

Estrin also wrote, "We at Lens keep returning to this intriguing photo, which raises questions about race, class and relationships between women in the Jim Crow South. And every time we look at this rare color image, we want to know much more about these women.

"So we are turning to you, dear readers, to help unravel this mystery. We particularly ask those of you who like history and research, as well as those who are just plain nosy, to help us crowd-source the stories of the people in this photo. Let's use the comments section of this post to share what we find out and help each other in our joint search. You can also e-mail us at lensnytimes (at) gmail.com. . . ."

The Times had published 104 comments by Friday.

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