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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The Takeaway

The Civil War: Celeste Headlee's Story

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's the 150th anniversary of The Civil War and the effects are still with us. Celeste Headlee reflects on her family's role in the Civil War; the branches of her family tree include both slaves and owners. The Civil War is over, but the fight continues; we still argue over whether to fly the Confederate flag and how to teach the history of the war.

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The Takeaway

A Journey From Black to White

Monday, January 02, 2012

The narrative of African Americans "passing" into white culture has long persisted. These stories are often tragic and filled with shame, secrecy, and the abandonment of home and family. In his new book, "The Invisible Line," Daniel Sharfstein looks at three families that were once identified as black and are now viewed as white. These stories are ones of pride as white families reconnect with their African-American roots.


The Takeaway

Jay Smooth Talks About Talking About Race

Monday, December 26, 2011

One of the most difficult conversations we can have in our society has to do with race. In some ways the conversation is complicated by recent milestone events in racial equality like the election of President Barack Obama. But Jay Smooth says that milestones like that are exactly the reason why we need to think and communicate more effectively about race as such milestones can obfuscate the real inequalities that still remain in our society.

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The Takeaway

Death of Chinese-American Soldier Draws Attention to Racism in Military

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Wednesday, eight American soldiers were charged in connection with the death of Pvt. Danny Chen. Chen's body was found lying in a guard tower on an American outpost in Kandahar province in October. The 19-year-old soldier died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This case echoes the suicide of 21-year-old Lance Corporal Harry Lew in April, another Asian-American who reportedly shot himself while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. Known as a "minority minority," discrimination against Asian-Americans is frequently goes unreported by victims and the media.

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The Takeaway

A 'Poor Black Kid' Responds to Gene Marks

Friday, December 16, 2011

According to the U.S. Census figures from 2010, one in four African-Americans live in poverty. Less than one in five has a college degree. The question of how to help the community be upwardly mobile has been debated for decades, and it was on the mind of commentator Gene Marks when he wrote a recent commentary for Forbes called "If I Were a Poor Black Kid." "If I was a poor black kid I would get technical. I would learn software," Marks wrote. "I would learn how to write code. I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online. I would study on my own. I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished." Gene Marks is neither black, nor poor, and some people wondered why he would be giving advice to those who are.

Most recently on the internet - after an a commentator for Forbes-dot-com wrote an opinion piece called "If I were a poor black kid" ... Gene Marks argues that black kids can escape poverty by making sure they work hard at school to get good grades, become tech savvy and do their homework over the internet

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The Takeaway

Ta-Nehisi Coates on 'Why So Few Blacks Study the Civil War'

Monday, December 12, 2011

The uneasy embrace of slavery in colonial America produced an economic boom, rendered the founder's debates over freedom from kings and despots questionable distortions of truth and logic, slavery enshrined rascism in the U.S. Constitution and made the Civil War inevitable. The War itself created an identity for the United States from which there was no escape, even though it seems from time to time that the Civil War blinks out in relevance. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates says this narrative has to change. In a piece in this month's Atlantic, Coates says more black Americans need to study the war and their role in it in order to understand their place in history.

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The Takeaway

Mitt Romney's $100,000 Computer Purge

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In his final days of office, then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spent over $100,000 to replace the computers in the governor's mansion and to wipe the hard drives of existing computers. Not just his own, but those of eleven members of his staff. While not illegal the move is considered "unprecedented" and has been criticized by both the left and the right.  


The Takeaway

NAACP Attacks New Voting Laws

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Both parties recognize that minority voters could spell the difference between victory and defeat in next year's election. Changing demographic numbers underscore the importance of Latinos especially on polling day. And there are any number of voter registration efforts going on to try and get more blacks and Latinos to the polls. But in a new reports, according to the NAACP, there is concerted effort to disenfranchise African-American and Latino voters ahead of next year's presidential election. They say that new voting laws are an attack on minority voting rights. In fact, the NAACP will be petitioning the United Nations on Saturday over new laws in 25 states that they say target blacks and unfairly restrict the right to vote.

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On The Media

How Racist are Americans? Ask Google.

Friday, December 02, 2011

With election season in full flower, pollsters have emerged to gauge the fluctuating preferences of voters. But there are some questions to which pollsters are unlikely to get honest answers. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a PhD candidate at Harvard, has found a way to plumb America’s impenetrable psyche: Google Search results. Bob talks to Davidowitz about his method.

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The Takeaway

Jay Smooth on How He Learned to Love Talking About Race

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One of the most difficult conversations we can have in our society has to do with race. In some ways the conversation is complicated by recent milestone events in racial equality like the election of President Barack Obama. But, Jay Smooth says that milestones like that are exactly the reason why we need to think and communicate more effectively about race as such milestones can obfuscate the real inequalities that still remain in our society.

Comments [2]

The Takeaway

Anita Hill on Race, Gender, and Home

Friday, November 18, 2011

In 1991, Anita Hill went from being an obscure law school professor to the subject of a national controversy. As Clarence Thomas was nominated to be a justice on the Supreme Court, Hill came forward with accusations that Thomas sexually harassed her when she worked with him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hill's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee vaulted sexual harassment into the national dialogue, forever changing the way Americans talk about the topic.


The Takeaway

Solving Black Unemployment in America

Monday, October 17, 2011

The national unemployment level continues to hover around 9 percent. But among African-Americans, that number shoots up to about 16 percent. On Friday’s program The Takeaway spoke with Robert Johnson, founder of BET and CEO or RLJ Companies. Johnson, who was the first African-American to become a billionaire, has a new idea for how to get black Americans out of poverty.


The Takeaway

'The Mountaintop' Imagines Martin Luther King's Final Hours

Friday, September 23, 2011

In April of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave an eerily prescient speech. "I just want to do God's will,"  he said. "And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!" King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee the following day. A new Broadway play called "The Mountaintop" imagines what King's private moments in his hotel room were like in the hours leading up to his death. The play stars Samuel L. Jackson as King and Angela Bassett as Camae, a maid in the Lorraine Hotel.

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The Takeaway

African-American Identity in the Age of Obama

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In a new book, Professor Michael Eric Dyson explains how he described Barack Obama's attitude toward African-American identity during the 2008 election. "[W]hat I've noticed is that he's proud of his race, but that doesn't capture the range of his identity. He's rooted in, but not restricted by, his blackness." A new book, "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?", examines that concept, and the complicated identity of the 40 million African-Americans in the U.S. today.

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The Takeaway

The State of Marital Unions in the African-American Community

Monday, September 12, 2011

Throughout the course of American history, a lot has been said about marriage in the African-American community. From scientific racism to the Moynihan Report to Tyler Perry, the way we discuss marriage in black America can be difficult and often controversial. The marriage rate has declined for all Americans over the past forty years, but it’s declined much faster in the black community. Why is this?

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The Takeaway

New Film Documents the Black Power Movement

Friday, September 09, 2011

In the late 1960s, Swedish TV crews came to America, drawn by stories of unrest and revolution. For nearly a decade they stayed and filmed interviews with leaders of the Black Power movement. Their footage was broadcast in Sweden, but up until now, most of the footage stayed there. A new movie, called "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" brings the footage to American audiences.

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The Takeaway

Historically Black Colleges Aim for More Non-Black Students

Friday, August 26, 2011

Historically black colleges and universities were established prior to the establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made previously established "separate but equal" racial segregation laws null. The schools were intended to provide higher education to the black community, at a time when black students weren't permitted to attend many institutions. Today, 105 historically black colleges and universities still exist in America, but many of them are now actively looking to enroll non-black students. Why is this? And how will this initiative change historically black colleges?

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The Takeaway

Desiree Cooper on 'The Help'

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The film adaptation of “The Help” has been out since last week, and reviews are mixed. Some say the film depicts the lives of African-American domestic workers with too much levity. Discussions abound about the movie's treatment of the sensitive relationship between white women and black domestic servants — many of them negative.

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