All Articles Tagged "race relations"

Café Mocha Tackles Race Relations On This Weekend’s Episode

June 26th, 2015 - By Madame Noire
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Rolonda Watts

Rolonda Watts

This weekend the discussion is race relations. Rachel Dolezal isn’t the only one pretending to be Black. Dr. Jay Richards talks about the psychology behind this issue. Attorney and radio personality Mo Ivory also joins in the chat.

And just what does veteran CBS local newscaster Rolonda Watts think of the slanted way the media portrays Black victims? We’ll discuss the Charleston massacre as well.

Did Y’all See that Tami Roman, former Basketball Wives star, is pregnant at 45? Don’t miss the ladies of MadameNoire on the latest episode ofDid Y’all See on Café Mocha Radio this weekend. and check out the MadameNoire YouTube page for more.

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Visit Café Mocha Radio for air times around the country and on SiriusXM Channel 141. #CMR #CafeMocha

Fathers Talk Race and Parenting In ‘Brown Boy Bad’

May 26th, 2015 - By Kay Hudson
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Like many people, the killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer troubled me.

Later, my misgivings were multiplied when both police officers accused of wrongdoing in the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown were cleared.

I thought about what I could do to affect some type of change. As an automotive journalist for, I often create something I call a “test-drive-interview,” which consists of me interviewing someone while they test-drive a new car.

Obviously, we talk about the vehicle during these chats, but we talk about it in an organic, unscripted way. And we don’t just talk about the car. We also talk about the interviewee’s career and life decisions, what drives them (pun intended) and whether they tend to focus on the journey or the destination.

A big part of our editorial focus at is reaching out to affluent, Black women who are often overlooked by the automotive industry. As a result, all of the test-drive-interviews I’ve done in the past have been with women.

I decided the easiest way I could contribute to the #BlackLivesMatter movement was to create a new series of test-drive interviews featuring successful Black men. The idea being, that mainstream America needs to see more images of upstanding Black men in the media.

Later, I decided to ask my first male interviewee to wear a hoodie during his interview. I wanted to make the subconscious point that just because a Black man is large (like Eric Garner and Mike Brown) and wearing in a hoodie, does not mean that he is dangerous or unintelligent.

Before we started the interview, while I was still taking pictures of the test-drive vehicle, an unkempt white man with blackened teeth approached us. While his friend watched from the driver’s seat of a nearby cargo truck, the man spoke to us with a surly demeanor, claiming ownership of the vacant lot in which we were standing. He also kept one hand hidden inside the waistband of his pants—a familiar pantomime implying that he had a gun.

A tense conversation ensued.

After he understood that we were not whoever he assumed us to be, things took another uncomfortable turn. The man changed his tone from outright hostility to inappropriate familiarity. First, he assured us that he has Black friends and then he tried to sell us anything and everything that could be considered stereotypically Black. From BBQ ribs to an “old school” Buick Regal with big rims and tinted windows, you name it, he tried to sell it. Aggressively.

After they left, we tried to get back to our video shoot, but it was impossible to talk casually about the vehicle and it’s features when we both felt so offended by what had just happened. So, instead of talking about the car, we decided to talk specifically talk about race.

The results were better than I could have hoped for. Not only did we discuss race- and size-based assumption, but also how to discuss racism with our children in a society that considers itself post-racial.

The project has grown quickly. It now consists of two major parts: Brown Boy Bad(?), a series of test-drive-interviews with Black fathers, and B4 Brown Boy Bad a companion podcast (co-produced with Thomas Reid), in which these same fathers discuss their first childhood memory of racism.

You can find out more about the project, listen to the podcast, make a donation and purchase a limited edition Brown Boy Bad Bracelet at

Originally posted on

School and Race Relations: Kid-Friendly Rebuttals for the Baltimore Riots

May 1st, 2015 - By Rich
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“Mother, mother – there’s too many of you crying.” It’s a shame that those lyrics from decades ago still speak to the racially driven social climate today. For the better part of the week and weekend, many of us watched the peaceful protests and marches that took place in Baltimore over the recent death of Freddie Gray. The details behind what happened when Gray died while in police custody have yet to be released but footage recorded from an eye-witness clearly shows he was badly injured when they picked his limp body from the concrete to load him into the paddy wagon. Long story short – Baltimore residents are pissed and took to the streets – looting, rioting and destroying police squad cars.

My 13- year-old son is required to watch national news over the weekends because his father and I want him to be aware of what’s going on nationally and globally. He’s fully aware of the Freddie Gray story and we’ve discussed, once again, the lack of information behind a young black man’s death at the hands of police. He said there wasn’t even a mention of Freddie Gray at school and in the classroom until … wait for it … the riots! He came home frustrated and angry over the same uninformed “they” and “thug” questions and commentary from his white classmates and even teachers. So, I took it upon myself to make sure he knows how to refocus the argument to the fact that a man was killed by the people who are supposed to “protect” the public. Mommies, here are a few kid-friendly rebuttals for the Baltimore Riots.

School and Race Relations: Kid-Friendly Rebuttals for the Baltimore Riots

On #RaceTogether And The Struggle To Have The Right Conversations About Race Relations

April 1st, 2015 - By Alexandra Olivier
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Charlesimage /

Charlesimage /

Each morning, I start my day with a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing so since high school and I have yet to kick the habit. Initially a huge Dunkin’ Donuts fan, everything changed when I discovered Starbucks’ vanilla latté.

The usual order is a hot cup paired with a chocolate croissant, toasted please, and then I’m out the door–unless I plan to use the coffee shop as a workspace. It’s simple: get an overpriced coffee and croissant and bounce. But if Starbucks had their way, I would leave with a lot more than that.

You may have heard that the coffee haven attempted to add a layer of complexity to their cups of liquid gold. #RaceTogether – a campaign to encourage open discussions about race – lasted for just one week (ending on March 22) and is said to be in a state of renovation.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy — these are very complex conversations that are happening — and that some would be uncomfortable having them,” said Laurel Harper, a spokesperson for Starbucks, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “But really our intent was to build awareness and ignite conversations and begin to get comfortable in having conversations about race.”

And while I respect their intentions, I don’t necessarily believe that Starbucks is the proper forum to discuss deeper issues that plague society.

No one wants to be confronted with the harsh realities that discussing race relations brings. So tossing your views on race out there as you order a venti iced passion tango tea during your morning rush is irresponsible.

And while race is the hot topic many are too afraid to touch, it’s being discussed in some form everywhere; from Ava DuVernay’s release of Selma to the actions of the Alcohol Beverage Cops who used excessive force against Martese Johnson at the University of Virginia. We’re very aware of race relations and tension nowadays, but could that be holding us back from the discussions we need to be having?

Following the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, along with a wealth of new disturbing incidents, there is no escaping the realities of race. There is much to talk about and even more ignorance to deal with, but this isn’t a simple conversation to be had.

We are all scrambling for answers: How can black men still be getting lynched in the South? How can so many police officers get away with murdering black men and boys?

In our scramble, it appears that the discussions and solutions are watered down ones. This is a delicate issue that needs to be handled with care. One that should probably be discussed in a classroom, in the office, or better yet, at home. But a crowded and busy Starbucks? The setting does not offer barely enough time or opportunity to even share an introduction on centuries worth of hate.

We’ve become a community hell-bent on pointing out what is and isn’t racist, but with blinders focusing on one side of the argument versus the entire scope. There are discussions about “forgetting” race and pushing forward with a smile and forgiveness, much like Common tried to encourage in a recent interview, but that ignores the disturbing fact that race relations haven’t progressed much in this nation we live in.

I agree with Starbucks in the idea that there should be more of an effort made to have these conversations; but perhaps sponsoring a panel where a meeting of minds can take place is a better route than getting people to have a painful conversation while waiting in line for cappuccinos.

‘Whites Only’ Surfaces Again: Austin Lawyer Says He Was Posting ‘Exclusively For White People’ Stickers

March 23rd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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via HuffPost Live clip

via HuffPost Live clip

A criminal defense attorney, Adam Reposa, has taken responsibility for posting stickers on Austin, TX businesses that say “Exclusively for white people.”

In addition, the stickers say “Maximum of 5 colored customers/colored BOH staff accepted.” BOH apparently means the “back of house” workers at a restaurant. The stickers also feature a city of Austin logo and claim to be “sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program,” reports Yahoo. No such program exists.

According to Austin Mayor Steve Adler, the stickers were discovered Wednesday morning and he considers them “an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city.”

Racial tensions have been high in the city as it continues to grow and some people are being pushed out. In fact, a report last year found that Blacks were fleeing the city, opting instead for the suburbs.

Raul Alvarez, board president for the East Austin Conservancy, feels the stickers are probably in response to gentrification in the area on Austin’s east side. And he was right.

“I certainly share the concerns about the history and culture and affordability that’s being lost because of the rapid development, but our organization tends to focus on what it is we can do to preserve what makes East Austin unique and not focus on strategies that divide the community,” Alvarez told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

Reposa was much more blunt in his response, which is posted in the video below. Beware: There’s some NSFW language there.


While there might be some truth to what he’s saying, there’s more to the story. HuffPost Live says the stunt was also a promotion for his Facebook page. It’s called The Technology, but it’s unclear what exactly is going on there.

And he was in the news thanks to Vice in 2012 for an ad in which he’s basically screaming about being a lawyer and rear-ending a small car with his truck. Vice described him as “a lunatic.”

Umm… thoughts?

Starbucks Stops Employees From Writing ‘Race Together’ On Cups

March 23rd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign to help spark conversations about race relations will move forward without baristas writing “Race Together” on customer cups to spur conversations about race.

According to Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson, the coffee chain’s initiative to create dialogue on diversity and racial inequality will move forward but without the handwritten messages, as originally planned, reports The Guardian.

In a recent memo, company CEO Howard Schultz explained the cups were always “just the catalyst” for a broader conversation and that the company has already planned to end this phase of the campaign on March 22. Starbucks will go ahead with its planned forum discussions and co-produce special sections in USA Today as part of the Race Together initiative.

“Starbucks is also committing to hire 10,000 disadvantaged youth over the next three years and open new stores in communities with large minority populations,” reports NPR.

Many criticize the “Race Together” campaign as a tasteless marketing ploy and having the baristas write “Race Together” on cups was leaving the employees open to direct backlash and awkwardness for everyone. More than that, many questioned the depth of conversations you can have on this intense topic in that situation.

But Schultz stands firm behind the initiative. In the memo he added: “While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise. We leaned in because we believed that starting this dialogue is what matters most. We are learning a lot.”

Civil Rights Organization Race Forward Offers Partnership With Starbucks, ‘USA Today’

March 20th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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Race Forward, an organization in pursuit of racial justice and publisher of Colorlines, has offered to partner with Starbucks and USA Today to help with their mercilessly criticized campaign, #RaceTogether.

While Starbucks’ attempt to address the racial divide in this country is admirable (at least in our opinion), the first thing we thought when we saw the information about this program is why they hadn’t partnered with a civil rights groups with more experience on this topic than your average barista. The good people at Race Forward agree.

“Change starts at the top,” said Jyarland Daniels, marketing and communications director at Race Forward. “It’s great that baristas are engaging to some extent, but they need training on systemic racism.”

You can also end up with conversations like this one between  CBS Sunday Morning’s Nancy Giles and Jay Smooth, a DJ and cultural commentator. She proceeds to “tease” him for the way he’s talking about race in a video… until she finds out that he’s actually Black. (Go to the 5:30 minute mark. And listen to Chris Hayes’ prizewinning cackle when Jay drops the bomb.)

The focus, for Race Forward, is on “effective conversations,” seeking to further the discuss rather than just broach the topic to no end. Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of Colorlines wrote an open letter to the two companies, outlining the issues with the campaign and how Race Forward can help. It reads in part:

Effective conversations on race are grounded in the understanding that racial discrimination isn’t just, or even mostly, about what happens among individuals. It is about what happens as a result of systems. For example, if we consider that Ferguson was about an altercation between an unarmed teen and a police officer, we miss the opportunity to consider the entire picture. If, instead, we understand the shooting of Michael Brown as a result of a pattern of racially biased practices by law enforcement and the municipality of Ferguson, then we can identify policies and practices that truly change relations between residents and police.

Daniels adds, “If we have conversations about what this person does, what that person does, we stay in the same place… It’s about what kinds of policies reinforce supremacy.”

As with anything else, tackling that large civil rights issues we still face today takes more than just good intentions. Experienced groups that can speak to the different sides of the issue are better equipped to effect change.

“If I wanted to go into the coffee business [or] newspaper business, it might be a good idea to spend a little bit of time with people who do that,” Daniels says.

Do you think Starbucks should take Race Forward’s offer? It should be noted that the Starbucks program is in its initial stages, so there’s likely more in the works.


Cliven Bundy Remarks Re-Open Conversation About Republicans & Race

April 25th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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cliven bundy cnn

The GOP has been trying mightily (and mostly failing) to broaden its base by appealing to black voters. Then party members rally around someone like Cliven Bundy, who makes downright racist remarks and any baby steps that they may have been made disintegrate faster than you can say “negro.”

As Mo Elleithee, the DNC’s communications director, said about the issue, “If you ever want to be taken seriously for your outreach efforts, you might want to start by not defending racists.” Very good advice. While there are many on the right who have tried to separate themselves from these comments, there are others who still defend Bundy with excuses and “adding context,” going back to the initial issue that the government went too far when it tried to collect on what Bundy owes for use of federal land to graze his cattle. (Note the comments at that link from The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait on this issue, which are interesting.)

Some experts say that, at the heart of the issue, are “complicated” tensions that some parts of the population are trying to deal with. America is changing. Minorities are growing in population numbers, political power and visibility of every kind. And it’s bringing out this sort of offensive and prejudiced behavior. Writes CNN:

“We are looking at some of the ‘last white men standing,’ ” Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University, said of demographic shifts that show minorities now represent more than half of the nation’s population born in 2010 and 2011, according to the most recent census data.

“His comments represent that, and people rally around him because of this idea that white men are under siege. They are calling out the political establishment to stand by them,” he said.

That article notes that it’s not just about race either. Steps to make same-sex marriage legal in more places have been met with ugliness. And efforts to make things more equal for women, who have made strides in society, the home and the workplace, have been met with sexism.

“The articulation of their views is somewhat fringe, but the underlying attitude is not. They are a minority viewpoint, but they are a large minority,” adds Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.

Josh Barro, writing for The New York Times, goes a little further with Bundy’s comments, noting that Bundy also “wondered” where his Mexican and Chinese “brothers” are in this fight against the Bureau of Land Management. “They’re just as American as we are, but they’re not with us. If they’re not with us, they’re going to be against us,” Bundy said.

From Barro’s point of view, “Mr. Bundy is weirdly on to something here. The rush to stand with Mr. Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management is the latest incarnation of conservative antigovernment messaging. And nonwhites are not interested, because at gut-level an aversion to the government is almost exclusively a white phenomenon.” He follows that with stats from the Pew Research Center showing that, in 2011, Asians, African Americans and Hispanics were in favor of a larger government. And that cut across all economic groups, from those with money to those who depend on government programs to make ends meet.

We didn’t need Cliven Bundy to remind us that there are strides we have to make in the area of race relations. And it’s important that we have rational conversations about how to move things in a positive direction. But no matter how you feel about land rights or the government, Bundy’s words were clearly awful. It’s also important that we call out how wrong that language is.

New Poll Most Americans Wouldn’t Call Obama A Black Man

April 20th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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President Obama at the Oval Office replica in the LBJ Library. via @WhiteHouse

President Obama at the Oval Office replica in the LBJ Library. via @WhiteHouse

Even though President Barack Obama listed himself as African American in the 2010 U.S. Census, most Americans don’t consider the President a black man.

A new study by the Pew Research Center examines Americans’ feeling about the country’s changing demographics and how perception of race has changed. The study, entitled “The Next America,” found that as America becomes less white, the way the country looks at race is changing.

According to research, by 2060 whites will no longer be a majority. They will represent about 43 percent of the population. Interracial marriages are on the rise and this not only affects the number of biracial infants being born, it also affects what Americans think about ethnicity, especially when it comes to the offspring of biracial couples.

Because of his background, the perspective on President Obama is much different from what he listed on the Census. Lots has changed since the “one-drop rule,” which would have deemed Obama black regardless of his interracial background. But today the study found a surprising 52 percent of Americans consider Obama mixed-race.

“Both white and Hispanic respondents primarily used this classification, with 53 percent of white participants and 61 percent of Hispanic participants saying they considered the president mixed-race,” reports HuffPo. Interestingly however, a majority of blacks–55 percent–said they considered Obama black. Only 34 percent of black respondents said they think of him mixed-race.

This is a question that has come up with other notable figures, for instance Tiger Woods. How would you classify the President?

[via The Huffington Post]

Backward Priorities? Race Relations Is The Last Thing On Americans’ Minds

March 14th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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You would think in such polarized times as these, Americans would be conscious of race relations and the role persistent prejudice still plays in our society. But according to a new study, that is the last — literally the last — thing on folks’ minds.

According to a new Gallup survey, race relations occupies the final spot on a list of 15 national priorities, after climate change. An incredibly low 17 percent worry about race relations a “great deal” and 26 percent a fair amount. But a whopping 56 percent say they think about the issue “a little/not at all.”  The economy, federal spending and the budget deficit, and the availability and affordability of healthcare were the top three concerns.

Twenty-four percent of respondents say they worry about climate change a “great deal,” reports The Huffington Post.

Maybe Americans are buying into the post-racial society notion. But evidence proves there is still a lot to do in terms of race relations. Since Barack Obama became the first black president, racial tensions have heightened.

According to a poll commissioned by the Associated Press, the number of Americans with “explicit anti-black attitudes” increased from 48 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2012. Implicit racist attitudes jumped from 49 percent to 56 percent. “Another set of A.P. polls showed anti-Latino attitudes had climbed between 2011 and 2012,” reports  The New York Times.

The Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of hate groups in America increased from 926 in 2008 to 1,007 in 2012, and radical-right groups rose even faster.

And then you have tone deaf comments from politicians that make preconceptions and stereotypes about blacks and other minorities legitimate. Just yesterday, Wisconsin Congressman and likely 2016 presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R) was backtracking and explaining away comments he made during a radio interview that had a marked racial undertone.

Calling the remarks “inarticulate,” he was speaking about his ideas for alleviating poverty and said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus’s Poverty and Economy Task Force responded with the following in a statement, quoted on Politico, “My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated. Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.'”

Rep. Ryan maintains that he wasn’t talking about one community or culture, but rather “society as a whole.”

How often do you think about race relations?