Slate Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest, Dangly Bits Edition

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slate critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner discuss Rupaul's Drag Race, the legacy of Dick Clark, and whether Facebook is making us lonely.


The Takeaway

Latino or Hispanic: What's in a Label?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Latino and Hispanic: they're terms that a lot of Americans are asked to choose between when identifying themselves on the census, in official paperwork, and in everyday conversation. But according to a new poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, most adults of Latin American descent prefer not to use either. Instead, the respondents said they preferred to identify themselves by their country of origin.

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The Takeaway

Can Zimmerman Get a Fair Trial?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Could all the public attention affect George Zimmerman’s right to a fair trial? It’s a question that Wendy Kaminer has been mulling over. Kaminer is a lawyer, social critic, and correspondent at The Atlantic. She’s also the author of eight books, including “Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU.”

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The Takeaway

New Pew Survey Examines How Latinos Identify Themselves

Thursday, April 05, 2012

A new poll released by the Pew Survey looks at how Latinos identify themselves. We'll talk about the different identities we adopt with regard to our race with Mark Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, and Ilan Stavans, Amherst College professor of Latino culture.

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Micropolis: Pondering the Many Meanings of a Hoodie, After Trayvon

Friday, March 30, 2012

The hoodie has become synonymous with the black Florida teen gunned down by a neighborhood watch captain as he walked through a neighborhood wearing the sweatshirt.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Trayvon Martin Case: Perception and the Law

Friday, March 23, 2012

Columbia University Law School professor, and columnist for The Nation magazine, Patricia Williams discusses the difficulties when perceptions of threats are protected under the law--in the context of the Trayvon Martin case and the Stand Your Ground law in Florida as well as in the Dharun Ravi conviction. 

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The Takeaway

Trayvon Martin Case Prompts Reflections on Law, Order, and Community

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

By now, most of us have heard of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African-American boy who was shot and killed while walking through a friend’s gated community in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman who is not black, and who thought Martin looked suspicious. Martin had no weapons on him — only a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Diversity and Segregation in New York City

Monday, March 19, 2012

Richard Alba, distinguished professor of sociology at CUNY and acting director of the Center for Urban Research discusses a new study on segregation in New York City and what it means to our understanding of diversity. Alba is the author of The Next Generation: Immigrant Youth in a Comparative Perspective, edited with Mary Waters, and Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America. And Jenifer Bratter, associate professor of sociology and the director of Race Scholars at Rice University, explains why Houston was recently declared the most diverse city but also a still segregated city.

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The Takeaway

The 40th Iditarod

Friday, March 09, 2012

It’s the time of year when Alaskans proudly cheer, volunteer, and race in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Stretching 1,049 miles, the race features teams of 12 to 16 dogs, led by a musher. This year is the race’s 40th anniversary. Early this morning the first teams crossed the half-way point in the race.

Andy Angstman is a superfan of the Iditarod and a musher since childhood. He participated in the race in 2007. He joins us from Achorage, Alaska.

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The Takeaway

Kevin Young on African American Culture, and Its Role in the Country's Cultural Progress

Friday, March 09, 2012

In poet Kevin Young's new book, "The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness," Young offers a remarkable, encyclopedic essay on the history of African-American culture. Young explores how African-American culture and American culture have affected one another. The book, part prose and part essay, also explores how African-American culture has become an essential and inextricable part of American culture.


The Takeaway

A Closer Look at the Racial Divisions in the US Economy

Thursday, March 01, 2012

In the past couple years, the economy has become the focus of media coverage, politics and national debate. Movements like Occupy Wall Street brought issues of economic disparity and class to the center stage. But where and how does race fit into all this? 

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To Be Black at Stuyvesant High School: Readers Respond

Monday, February 27, 2012

The story of Rudi-Ann Miller, a 17-year-old senior at Stuyvesant High School and one of the school’s few black students, drew a wide range of responses from readers — many of them Stuyvesant alumni — on the topic of merit-based admission.

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It's A Free Country ®

Working White Voters: Misunderstood Political Prize

Monday, February 27, 2012

The richest voters support Republicans, but the richest states support Democrats. White voters without a college degree overwhelmingly favored Republicans in 2008 and 2010, but they’re making up a shrinking share of the electorate.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Linsanity, Explained

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jeff Yang, contributor to It's A Free Country, the WSJ Speakeasy blog, and former "Asian Pop" columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, and Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Takeaway sports correspondent, comment on the meteoric rise to fame of Chinese-American Knicks player Jeremy Lin, and what it says about sports, race and culture.

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The Shoulders On Which They Stand

Friday, February 10, 2012

The trailblazing African-American tenor George Shirley recently wrote an essay on race in opera that serves as a reminder of the opera field's past inequities and potential for progress, writes Fred Plotkin.

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The Takeaway

Comedian Baratunde Thurston on 'How to Be Black'

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February is Black History Month, and comedian Baratunde Thurston wants you to know that it's the perfect time to buy his new book, "How to Be Black." "The odds are high that you acquired this book during the nationally sanctioned season for purchasing black cultural objects, also known as Black History Month," he writes. "If you're like most people, you buy one piece of black culture per year during this month, and I'm banking on this book jumping out at you from the bookshelf or screen." Baratunde Thurston joins Celeste Headlee to discuss his new book: part-memoir, part-satire, part-political commentary.

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Realism vs. Racism: Opera's Casting Call

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A scholarly book looks at the many depictions of people "of color" in opera, including the thorny stage practice in which performers apply heavy makeup to play leading roles such as Otello and Aïda. Fred Plotkin considers.

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The Takeaway

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of 'The Snowy Day'

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In 1961, Ezra Jack Keats wrote and illustrated his first children’s book. It was called "The Snowy Day" and it told the story of Peter, a young, African-American boy in Brooklyn, enjoying the season's first snowfall. The book was immediately popular. Prior to its publication, no other mainstream children’s book had featured a black hero in a non-caricatured way.

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Art in a 'Post-Black' Era

Monday, January 16, 2012

In his book Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? the writer and TV host Touré explores the ever-evolving role of race in America. The book is part autobiography, part cultural analysis – and draws on interviews with more than 100 thinkers and artists, including Chuck D, Santigold, Kara Walker and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Touré joins us to discuss what it means to be black in America today.

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Transportation Nation

Why Don't More Blacks Use DC's Bike Share?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Capital Bike Share in Washington D.C.

Virginia Tech has just released a study of casual users of Washington, DC's bike share system, and the numbers on African American usage are startlingly low.

The study, based on 400  surveys of those who buy either 24-hour or 5-day passes, shows that just 5 percent of such users are "black/African American."

Caucasians represent 78 percent of casual users.

That contrasts starkly with the population of the District, which is 50 percent black,  and 34 percent white.

(Hispanic use is also low, but the Hispanic population of DC is only 9 percent.)

Ralph Buehler, the VT Assistant Professor who oversaw the study, cautioned that their sample only looked at casual users.  "Many of those users are tourists," Buehler said. "It's not surprising that would be more heavily white than the population of DC."

But Capital Bikeshare's own numbers for annual membership look even worse.  According to CaBi data from 2010, cited in the report, just two percent of annual members are black.

Chris Holben, DC's Bikesharing Project Manager, tells us more recent data shows an increase.  African American participation doubled by the end of 2011 -- but it's still only at four percent.

Ralph Buehler ran the numbers for us, and as it happens, participation in bike share is lower than general cycling rates for African Americans. According to the American Community survey, 12 percent of the population is African American, and 11 percent of the people who bike to work are African American.

Holben says DDOT is working to address the problem. One barrier to entry, he says, is the need to have a credit card to join the system. DDOT is participating in a "Bank on DC" program to get bank cards to the "unbanked," a population that typically tends to be more black than the general population. DC is running a promotion to offer discount Capital Bikeshare  memberships ($50 instead of $75) with the bank cards, and is looking into ways to create a monthly payment plan to make it even easier to join.

Holben also suggests that geography may play a role. The heavily African American neighborhood of Anacostia is separated from the rest of DC by a long bridge, it's more hilly than other parts of DC, and highways  further serve to cut off bike access.

Buehler adds: "There is a relative lack of bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhoods East of the Anacostia River (in Wards 8 and 7; the neighborhood of Anacostia is actually only a small part of that area).  Moreover population density is lower there than in downtown"

DDOT says it plans more outreach in African American neighborhoods as the weather warms up.

But the question remains: why do so few African Americans use DC's bike share?




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