‘Journalists of Diversity’ Group Seeks New President

For the first time, a white man is among those vying to lead the controversial minority coalition.

David Steinberg, Janet Cho Seek to Lead Troubled Coalition

With the National Association of Hispanic Journalists planning not to participate, the coalition once known as Unity: Journalists of Color expects to elect a new president next week, with a white man vying for the office for the first time.

David A. Steinberg, a board member from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, and Janet Cho, a representative of the Asian American Journalists Association, both put their names forward to lead Unity: Journalists for Diversity, according to Mary Hudetz, the president of the Native American Journalists Association who heads the Unity nominating committee.

The vote will be taken among members of the Unity board.

“Yes, I will be seeking the presidency of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity this month,” Steinberg, copy desk chief/stylebook editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, told Journal-isms by email Wednesday. “I believe I am best suited to advance UNITY’s vision of a more diverse media, advocate for its mission and, perhaps most importantly, reform its operations in a cost-efficient way.

“As UNITY president, I would bring a lifelong commitment to diversity and proven leadership skills to guide the organization through the challenges we face and work with the board to build a UNITY that more closely reflects how our alliances, and overall industry, operate in these fiscal times.

“What UNITY needs to succeed in today’s environment is the fundamental support from all journalism diversity organizations to make it work. We must restore the sense of partnership and shared values that UNITY was founded and built on, and overcome differences that distract us. That will be my overarching goal as UNITY president.”

Cho, a business reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, could not be reached for comment. She had voted against changing the name of the organization from “Unity: Journalists of Color,” a request made by NLGJA, of which Steinberg was president.

NLGJA was invited to join the coalition after the National Association of Black Journalists pulled out in 2011, citing financial and governance issues. The two men credited with the idea for Unity, Will Sutton of NABJ and Juan Gonzalez of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said separately that they disapproved of the name change. DeWayne Wickham, who as NABJ president in 1988 convened the first joint meeting of the boards of NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA, said of the change, “I think it amounts to a final divorce decree. . . . “

The remaining members of the coalition have maintained their support of NLGJA’s participation while saying they want NABJ to come back. “Together, we are stronger and more effective in getting our message heard,” Doris Truong of AAJA said of the lesbian and gay group last year.

Hugo Balta, president of NAHJ, has said the four NAHJ members on the Unity board “will not participate in any meeting of Unity until the NAHJ board definitely decides” NAHJ’s role in the coalition.

At its national convention last month in Anaheim, Calif., Balta indicted the structure of Unity, saying it was unfair for the larger Unity groups to have the same number of votes as the smaller ones. Balta said his efforts to change the structure have gotten nowhere. He said that two years after NABJ left the coalition over the same reasons of finances, governance, transparency and mission that have made NAHJ unhappy, “there hasn’t been a definitive change.”

Hudetz told Journal-isms Wednesday, “No matter what, I have every expectation the election will wrap up by the end of next week.” She has said the Unity board cannot delay the election because it has been advised that it needs an executive board of permanent members to function. Truong has been acting president since Tom Arviso Jr. of NAJA resigned suddenly in April aftrer four months.

Julie Chen Says, “I Don’t Look Less Chinese”

Julie Chen responded to criticism from some Asian Americans that she was denying her culture by having eyelid surgery to make her eyes look more western , reports Entertainment Weekly,” Randall Yip reported on his asamnews.com site.

“Chen made her comments Monday on her daytime show, The Talk.

” ‘What was hurtful was that hateful comments that I read where people were judging me were people from my own community. It was comments like ‘way to give in to the western standards of beauty, you know. You’re denying your heritage. You’re trying to look less Asian.’ Guess what, I don’t look less Chinese. I’m not fooling anybody,’ ” joked Chen.

On Tuesday’s ‘The Talk,’ Julie Chen denied rumors that she has had other plastic surgery other than eye surgery,” Katherine Fung reported Wednesday for the Huffington Post.

“Chen recently admitted that she got surgery for ‘bigger eyes’ years ago in order to advance her career. There has been speculation that Chen may have also undergone a nose procedure.

” ‘For the record, I have never had a nose job,’ Chen said Tuesday. ‘I have only had plastic surgery done to my eyes that I’ve already told you about.’ She added that she has not had any other procedures done to her face. . . .”

New Miss America Considered “Too Dark” in India

Nina Davuluri made history as the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America,” Lakshmi Chaudhry wrote Monday for the India-based website Firstpost.

“She is gorgeous, does a mean Bollywood routine, and plans to become a doctor. Move over spelling bees, #DesiPride is gonna rock beauty pageants in malls across America.

“OK, so it’s no Tahrir Square, but many Indian Americans felt her victory offered vindication in a culture that prizes hot blondes as the exemplar of all-American beauty. A point Davuluri herself made when asked about Asian TV personality Julie Chen’s decision to have plastic surgery to make her eyes less Asian:

” ‘I don’t agree with plastic surgery, however I can understand that from a standpoint. More importantly I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door. And Miss America is always evolving… I wouldn’t want to change someone’s looks. Be confident in who you are.’ “

“Of course, progress is not exactly a good thing in some quarters. [BuzzFeed] immediately issued a listicle titled ’12 People Who Don’t Realize That #MissAmerica Is In Fact… American,’ which included such insightful tweets as: ‘Miss America needs a red dot on her forehead #missamerica’; ‘I’m not a racist. She is representing America doing an Indonesian dance. If it was a Miss Universe pageant it would have been cool’; ‘Well, they’ve picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy.’

“And for the win: ‘How can you be Miss AMERICA and look like you should be a gas station clerk or motel owner?’

“To be fair, there was plenty of pushback from Americans of all hues, including the South Asian twitterati — who also included their share of party poopers. Like Anna John who unhelpfully noted:

“What’s interesting is Miss America Nina Davuluri would never win pageants in South Asia because she’d be too dark to be considered beautiful & the same is true for all of those ‘Miss Indian American USA’ pseudo-pageants held here, as well. No darkies allowed in winner’s circle. . . .”

“That gorgeous chocolate may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses. . . . “

Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: America’s Asian fetish frenzy: An Indian American wins Miss America and CBS’s Julie Chen reveals a different kind of affirmative action

Rega Jha, BuzzFeed: Is Miss America Too Dark-Skinned To Ever Be Crowned Miss India?

Roxanne Jones, CNN: Thank you, Miss America

Samhita Mukhopadhyay, the Nation: Miss America Nina Davuluri Is Not a Symbol of Progress

Maureen O’Connor, New York: Would Miss America’s Skin Be Too Dark for Miss India?

Alyssa Rosenberg, Think Progress: The Racist Reaction To The New Miss America, And How To Make Public Shaming More Effective

Noah Rothman, Mediaite: On Fox, Indian-American Miss America Brushes Off Racism Directed at Her

Sandip Roy, Firstpost: Indians, back off: Nina Davuluri is an American story

Somini Sengupta, New York Times: Outburst Highlights Conundrum for Twitter

Essence Editor: Don’t Be Defined by Mainstream Images

In the October issue of Essence magazine, new editor-in-chief Vanessa K. Bush urges black women not to be defined by “mainstream media images. When we treasure our unique selves — our hair, nose, lips, bosoms and hips — we begin to embrace our own beauty, like the luminous Viola Davis, who graces this month’s cover.”

Bush, who sees “my natural buzz cut, broad nose, full lips and ample bosom and hips” when she looks in the mirror, also said in her “letter from the editor,” “It’s clear when we look at whose image is elevated and whose is not that society sees beauty through a one-dimensional lens.”

In Bush’s interview with Davis, who played a domestic in the 2011 film “The Help,” for which she received a best-actress Oscar nomination, Davis said she later decided to wear her hair naturally as part of coming to terms with herself as an artist and as a black woman.

“The level of the attacks that came at me just for deciding to do The Help got me to that point that night at the Oscars,” she said. “I had to step into who I was. I had to defend myself as an artist, and through that, I found myself defending myself as a Black woman, a dark-skinned Black woman in front of people who did not know my life, not just in terms of me being Viola but also in terms of being a Black actress in Hollywood. And through that fighting, what emerged was that I needed to take my wig off, because I no longer wanted to apologize for who I am. So I did that and felt very comfortable in doing that . . . .”

Davis also said, “Once I did, what was left was this image of me and my natural hair, with my dark skin, with my body. The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humor of being a regular Black woman.”

Michaela Angela Davis, CNN: A tale of two black hairstyles

Navy Yard Suspect Complained of Racism, Friend Says

Aaron Alexis was so unhappy with his life in America — where he was beset by money woes and felt slighted as a veteran — that he was ‘ready to move out of the country’ last year, a friend said Tuesday,” Mark Potter and Charles Hadlock reported for NBC News.

Alexis, the man police say shot and killed 12 people in the Washington Navy Yard, reportedly called police to complain that people were following him and that he was hearing voices.

The NBC reporters spoke with Kristi Suthamtewkal, whose husband owns the Thai Bowl Restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, where Alexis worked in exchange for room and board.

They reported, “After he returned from a contract job in Japan in Nov. 2012, he didn’t seem as easy-going, though.

” ‘He felt like he had been cheated out of money from the contract and complained that he was mistreated because he was black,’ Kristi Suthamtewkal said.

” ‘He felt a lot of discrimination and racism with white people especially,’ she said. . . .”

In a commentary Tuesday on radio’s “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” CNN anchor Don Lemon said, “Finish this sentence for me. If I had a son, he’d look like? The President said Trayvon.

“If I had a son he’d look like Aaron Alexis — that is the new Internet meme. That’s the new hashtag that’s trending on Twitter. If Obama had a son he’d look like Aaron Alexis. If Obama had a son he’d look like the shooter. Or if Obama had a son he’d look and act like Aaron Alexis.

“Immediately after the FBI identified the suspect in yesterday’s shooting in the Navy Yard in D.C. as Aaron Alexis, a young black man, some – some on the political right – jumped on the bandwagon, well, at least on the Internet; online, on Twitter, on Facebook specifically, and began to take glee, not only in the fact that the shooter was black, but that they could make a comparison to the President of the United States. A funny comparison, a snarky comparison. But here’s the truth. Most of the mass shootings in workplaces, in schools, in malls, et cetera, are committed by white men, in overall numbers and in percentages.

“But men of color, as we have begun to know now, are not immune, like Christopher Dorner, remember him? He went on the shooting spree earlier this year in California killing police officers and innocent civilians and now Aaron Alexis; two men who turned their inner anger and revenge to the people around them. Black men know, like Don Cornelius, and more recently, actor Lee Thompson Young turned their anger inward and took their lives.

“So here’s something else for you to think about. These incidents will probably increase if we don’t bring something into the light and discuss it. And that is mental health among black people, or the converse, which is mental illness, which are taboo subjects in our community. . . .”

LZ Granderson, CNN: Gun control is not the answer

Carrie Healey, the Grio: Conservatives link president to DC shooter: ‘If Obama had a son he’d look like Aaron Alexis’

Joe JohnsStacey Samuel and Angie Yack, CNN: Woman met Navy Yard shooter before killings

Eric Levenson, the Atlantic: The Story of the Viral Navy Yard Shooting Photo That Wasn’t

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Our insanity over guns claims more victims

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Navy Yard shooting hits home

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Recall effort has lessons for future gun policy

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Latest mass shooting in D.C. likely to increase gun sales

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Navy Yard shooting: The nine lives of the unreliable anonymous source