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TV Not for Obama's Progressive Critics of Color

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January 13, 2016

Some wish "State of the Union" addressed race issues; Trump rejects white nationalists but embraces "anger"; Al Jazeera America, praised for reporting, to close in April; report finds temp agency caters to clients' racism; Muslim reporters perceive uptick in U.S. colleagues; N.Y. cabbie fined $500 for passing up Al Roker; black actresses say media has warped images of women; NPR TV critic challenges CBS on stereotyping; where to draw the line on Confederate monuments? (1/13/16)

Some Wish "State of the Union" Addressed Race Issues

Trump Rejects White Nationalists but Embraces "Anger"

Al Jazeera America, Praised for Reporting, to Close in April

Report Finds Temp Agency Caters to Clients' Racism

Muslim Reporters Perceive Uptick in U.S. Colleagues

N.Y. Cabbie Fined $500 for Passing Up Al Roker

Black Actresses Say Media Has Warped Images of Women

NPR TV Critic Challenges CBS on Stereotyping

"Things got testy during the 'Rush Hour' panel at CBS's Television Critics Association press junket on Tuesday,"Tony Maglio reported for TheWrap.com

"When NPR [television critic] Eric Deggans, a high-profile member of the National Association of Black Journalists, criticized the TV adaptation's pilot for what he saw as perpetuating racial stereotypes, executive producer Bill Lawrence blasted the 'very negative' question.

"Deggans noted the criticism the 'Rush Hour' movies received for their stereotypical lead characters — 'the wise-cracking black guy and the Asian guy with kung-fu skills'— and said, 'Watching the pilot, I see that you haven't done much to change those archetypes. And at a time when we have shows that are really trying to have a nuanced discussion about race, these characters still feel very stereotypical to me.'"

"Deggans concluded: 'Tell me whether you agree, what you think about that — and if you're going to try to change these archetypes a little bit.'

"The first 'Rush Hour' panelist to answer was Justin Hires, who plays the Chris Tucker role from the movies. Hires stated that the character essentially reflects his own stand-up act anyway, and he doesn't believe the result is negative or disingenuous.

"Deggans then clarified his stance, comparing and contrasting the upcoming show's pilot with the more-evolved plot of 'Empire,' a show focused on minorities that is obviously much further along and in its second season. That's when the always-outspoken Lawrence jumped in. . . ."

Where to Draw the Line on Confederate Monuments?

"Those driving or even flying here this week for the American Historical Association’s annual meeting might have glimpsed Stone Mountain out their car or airplane window,"Colleen Flaherty wrote Friday from Atlanta for Inside Higher Ed.

"The massive, Mount Rushmore-style tribute to Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson is hard to miss and — for many — hard to stomach. But what can and should be done about the thousands upon thousands of Confederate memorials and other symbols throughout the American South, many of which are on college and university campuses?

"The topic was the subject of a plenary session for the first time open to the public here Thursday at the AHA’s gathering.

"James Grossman, executive director of the AHA, and a panel of noted experts on the American South all said the evening's discussion was precipitated by the June massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, S.C., which prompted debates about state-sanctioned Confederate iconography due to the shooter's interest in such symbols, as well as the recent student protest movement.

"But speakers also said that the history of the Confederate flag and other symbols is long and fraught, and that another national conversation over their value and rightful place was already overdue.

"For David Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, the Confederate symbol question is, in part, about where one's 'line' is. For some, he said, the line between what is historically valuable and not is drawn at that which does not promote maximum unity. For others, the line leads to maximum knowledge, and the 'troubled wisdom' that comes with it.

"Others still draw it at healing justice, if such a thing can be achieved, he said, and yet others at maximum pleasure or pain. Blight said he was pushed by a reporter earlier this year in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting — which he called the past 'exploding' into the present — to draw his own line. Without realizing it, Blight named the Davis and Lee figures in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol as Confederate monuments he found unacceptable. . . ."

Flaherty also wrote that John Coski, an historian with the American Civil War Museum and author of "The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem," said historians can help explain the difference between the facts of history and the "glorifying" of it and "should demand a more sophisticated conversation about what it means to 'erase' history, and whether that's really possible. . . ."

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