"Washington Monthly released its annual college rankings this week, and black and women's colleges are ranked next to Ivy Leagues," NPR's "Tell Me More" reported on Wednesday. "That's because on this list, colleges score more points for promoting volunteer work and admitting more students with Pell Grants."

Jackson State University, a historically black institution in Jackson, Miss., trumpeted the news on its website under the headline, "Jackson State University outranks Yale, Princeton in national study."

"In its newly released study, Washington Monthly magazine ranked Jackson State University one of the top 10 institutions of higher learning across the country in terms of social mobility, research and service ratings. Coming in at No. 9 among 258 institutions, Jackson State outranked Princeton (No. 31), Yale (No. 39), the Georgia Institute of Technology (No. 54) and Howard (No. 73) universities. Jackson State is the only Historically Black College or University to break into Washington Monthly's top 10," the notice said.

Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of Washington Monthly, appeared on "Tell Me More" and quickly took a swipe at the better-known rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

". . . I managed not to have to work on the college rankings when I was at US News, but it was sort of common knowledge that the metrics were a little bit dicey. And when I came to the Washington Monthly, we ran a series of stories exposing, in a sense, what was wrong with US News' college metrics and suggesting what they ought to do," Glastris said.

"And eventually, we thought, well, if we're so smart, why don't we come up with rankings of our own? And so we did this."

". . . U.S. News measures mostly inputs, how much do they pay their professors, class sizes, things that are not unrelated academics but really don't tell you that much about how much learning is going on.'

Host Michel Martin said, "So the three areas that you use in your ranking are first of all, the first one you call 'based on social mobility.' How committed are they to enrolling low-income students and helping them earn degrees? The second category looks at research production and success at sending undergraduates on to Ph.D.s. And then you give great weight to service."

Jackson State was not the only historically black college or university to benefit under those criteria.

"We've made very persistent efforts in recent years to better serve our students - especially those who don't have the means for college tuition - and to train them for careers in research and community service," Mark G. Hardy, Jackson State provost and vice president for academic affairs, said in the news release. "This ranking reminds us that we are on the right track."

Glastris said, "Jackson State does a very, very good job of the social mobility measure. They have a lot of low-income students, and they do a heck of a job of graduating them. They also have a big ROTC program. A lot of kids do community service of various kinds that we measure, and on those measures, they - and they got a decent research background. So on those measures, they're the ninth-best national university in the country."

U.S. Muslims More Satisfied Than General Public

"As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years," the Pew Center for the People & the Press reported on Tuesday. "There also is no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.

"On the contrary, as found in the Pew Research Center's 2007 survey, Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics surveyed this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both here and abroad.

". . . Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

"At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries.

"Strikingly, Muslim Americans are far more satisfied with the way things are going in the country (56%) than is the general public (23%)."

* Ted Diadiun, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Reassessing 9/11, not rehashing it

* Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press: NYPD monitored where Muslims ate, shopped, prayed

* Chris Hellman, TomDispatch.com: Are you safer now than you were 10 years ago?

* Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times: Television takes on 9/11 amid its 10th anniversary

"NPR guests, hosts and correspondents used the term in nearly 80 stories in the last year, not counting the hourly newscasts. Ken Wibecan, a listener from Schuyler Falls, NY, wrote to us:

" 'Many people use [minority] when they really mean African American or Latino. That it is not only inaccurate, but it is also offensive...Does NPR really think that the population of America is composed of only two elements - whites and minorities? I don't think so. And if not, isn't it time to retire that insulting word and use more specific designations instead?'

"Already, just over a third of the country is Latino, black or Asian American, according to the 2010 Census. Non-Hispanic whites have fallen to less than 50 percent of the population in the country's two most populous states, California and Texas. Demographers cited in a June 27 report on 'Tell Me More' projected that non-whites will become the majority of the U.S. population by roughly 2050. Add growing inter-marriage to the mix and the lines between majority and minority are becoming ever more blurred.

". . . So, it would seem that the word 'minority' in describing a racial or ethnic group is useful in some instances. But which ones? This seems a good project for the next several months as we follow NPR reports. I hope that you will aid with your own vigilance, as well as send your general thoughts and guidance."

About 1998, the Unity '99 organization was renamed "Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc.," a development that coincidentally followed questioning by a number of journalists about the appropriateness of the "minority" term.

"I haven't used that word the entire week," Ernest Sotomayor, Unity president in 2004, told Journal-isms at the time. "I don't think there were very many people in that ballroom who felt they were minorities."

In 1991, Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe wrote a column headlined, "'Minor' call, major gaffe" that began, "Let us bury the term 'minority.' Minoriteee ends like tineee, which ends like weeneee, which ends like dinkeee. When corporate and newsroom executives utter the mantra, 'We could use a minoriteee,' I swear they have invented a human specieee so darn puneee, it is a fait accompleee that the search for a minoriteee will be met with futiliteee."

David Lawrence, then president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, read the column and questioned whether ASNE should continue using the term. The name of ASNE's Minorities Committee was later changed to Diversity Committee.

Jackson's 1991 column is in the "Comments" section below.

* Nsenga Burton, theRoot.com: Minorities Are Majority in 8 Major U.S. Cities

* Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR: On Race: More On Being Called a 'Minority' (Sept. 1)

Rush Limbaugh's Right-Hand Man Is Black

"What would certainly surprise "people who are justifiably loath to listen to Rush" Limbaugh- including, but not limited to the black community - that his sidekick is black," David A. Love wrote Wednesday on theGrio.com.

"That's not to say it is surprising that Limbaugh has any black friends. Justice Clarence Thomas, an anathema to some in the black community and elsewhere, due in no small part to his sullying of the Supreme Court with Tea Party money, officiated at Rush's third wedding in 1994.

"But Limbaugh's right-hand man is himself a black guy named James Golden, known as Bo Snerdley. Bo Snerdley is the guy who screens the calls, impersonates black leaders and Ebonics speakers from the hood on air, and acts as the show's one-man peanut gallery and amen corner. Some would even suggest he plays the role of court jester or minstrel.

"Self-described as the 'official Obama criticizer,' Snerdley says he is 'certified black enough to criticize, with a heavy dose of pure, unadulterated organic slave blood.' Part of his shtick is providing a commentary, usually a criticism of Obama or some other black leader, in perfect English.

" 'America is great, it was great before you stepped on the scene. The thing that frightens us sir is you are Hell-bent on destroying what is great in the name of liberalism,' Snerdley offered in one commentary. Then, he translates his statement into Ebonics, so that black folks in the so-called 'hood' would understand."

Station Removes Photo of New Anchor With Chris Brown

"Among the top stories on CBS4's website at this writing is an introduction to newly hired anchor/reporter Evrod Cassimy," Michael Roberts wrote Tuesday for Westword, a Denver alternative weekly. "But one viewer who clicked was distressed to discover that Cassimy's head shot . . . was accompanied by a photo of him arm-in-arm with singer Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to assaulting his then-girlfriend, pop star Rihanna. . . .

". . . Thus far, Cassimy - who, like Rihanna, is of Caribbean descent (his parents are from Trinidad, she was born in Barbados) - hasn't responded to an interview request on this subject. However, CBS4 news director Tim Wieland, replying via e-mail, writes, 'That photo was taken during an interview Evrod conducted with Chris Brown at his former station [in Orlando, Florida], about a charity event Brown was doing for the Red Cross.'

"However, he adds, 'We've decided to remove it from the bio page.' "

During the previous job, Cassimy maintained a website that called him "TV News' FIRST R&B recording artist." "In July 2008, Evrod joined the Central Florida News 13 team using his microphone to cover the Orlando newsroom as a general assignment reporter," it said. "When he's not covering the big story, Evrod is entertaining on another mic. A singer since he was three years old, Evrod has released his own CD single."

". . . Besides reports for the 'Noticiero Univision' evening and weekend newscasts and newsmagazine program 'Aqui y Ahora' ('Here and Now'), the new correspondent will work on special assignments, Univision said.

"Collins later had her own show, 'Cada Dia con Maria Antonieta,' on the rival Telemundo network, and also reported for Mexican TV giant Televisa and publications such as El Nuevo Herald and El Sol de Mexico."  

Karuk Indian J-School Grad Ready for Job at NBC

"Like so many epic battles, Chiara Sottile's campaign to get more visibility for American Indians started on a playground," Eisa Nefertari Ulen wrote Tuesday in Indian Country Today. "But unlike a typical schoolyard skirmish, this struggle led Sottile to New York's iconic Yankee Stadium, some of the country's best golf courses and the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"With an activist's insistence on justice and a journalist's obsession with truth, this recent graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism has made a short film, 'Winning for Native America,' (watch the video above) in which New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, former PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay III and Olympic ice dancer Naomi Lang talk about their experiences as American Indians competing at the highest levels of athletic achievement.

"Each athlete talks about life in the mainstream - and about life in Indian country, including the health and education disparities in those two communities, from a personal perspective."

A native Californian whose mother is Karuk and whose father is Sicilian, "Sottile produced the documentary to complete her master's thesis and, she says, because 'Native peoples are not just lines in history texts, cigar-store dummies or sports mascots. Those kinds of representations indicate how often in mainstream culture Native people are relegated to the past.'

"This film suggests that Sottile's future career, set to launch in the fall when she joins the next class of News Associates at NBC, will be stellar. . . ."

NBC's News Associates diversity program is described as "a fast-track opportunity for people with the goal to learn news gathering and production skills. It is not designed to train people who wish to be on-air reporters."

* Nathan Finster, Kansas State Collegian, Kansas State University: Defunct club for minority students in journalism in need of leadership

 

Labor Day brought unexpected news for friends and colleagues who found their names added to a new Facebook page, "Friends of Elmer Smith": The longtime editorial writer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News is retiring.

"Yo, Elmer!! Sorry to hear that the coolest cat, and one of the smartest voices at the DN, is leaving. The paper and the newsroom won't be the same without you.... I hope your retirement is a blast! I wish you every happiness!" wrote  Marianne Costantinou.

". . . you're the wordsmith of all wordsmiths. please don't go, Elmer (frown, tear, frown).... the Daily News will neva eva be the same." said Sarah J. Glover.

"Big thanks to you always Elmer, for being an incredible role model, believing in me and teaching my daughters that a dream like Santa Claus comes in all colors...they still talk about sitting on your knee at the Daily News and making their Xmas wishes," wrote Yvonne Latty.

"When I was a journalism major at Temple University in '80s, I wanted to be the 'next Elmer Smith.' Truth is, Elmer is one of a kind," wrote Ray Jones.


"So I guess this is how people at the Daily News learn that Elmer is retiring?" Will Bunch wrote. "Anyway, what a loss for quality journalism in this town — truly [irreplaceable]."

Melanie Burney, editorial writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, replied to Bunch, "Don't blame Elmer. I jumped the gun in trying to get the word out so his friends can put the party on their schedules. Hope you can make it!"

All this was news to Smith, 66, who wasn't even a subscriber to Facebook. At a weekend wedding of longtime Inquirer manager Sandra D. Long, whose position was recently eliminated, Smith and Burney began plans for a retirement party as a benefit for Brandywine Workshop, of which Smith is an officer. Its goals include "enhancing the quality and richness of the visual arts through active participation of artists and audiences from culturally diverse backgrounds."

Smith told Journal-isms he had reservations about going public with his retirement since he wasn't planning to leave until the end of the year and wasn't sure he wanted to compress his thoughts into the relatively brief space of a farewell column.

But Smith said he'd had "a career I could not have imagined," starting as a student at Temple University, when he landed a job at the old Philadelphia Bulletin in 1973, working 15 hours a week as a rewrite man. "I was seated between two guys, crusty old guys who were better than me by an order of magnitude," he said. They could take poorly written stories and make them sing. "It taught me, this is not about writing, this is about reporting. No matter how well these guys write, reporters' names go on the story."

Along the way, Smith became a sportswriter, a founder of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and an editorial writer and columnist at the Daily News.

"Imagine somebody paying you to think," he said, marveling at his good fortune. "I just feel blessed to have spent as long as I have in this business. I started in the fourth-largest market in the country and the market that I grew up in. I fully expected that I'd have to start my career in some small town. My wife had already started hers" in Philadelphia and that would have caused a problem. "God saw to it that it didn't have to be that way."

Still, after a while "you get comfortable," Smith said, offering one reason for retiring. "There ought to be a different kind of tension. I expect this will enable me to find another spark."

Smith said he hopes to write short stories about life on the road, recalling how different his own life was as a sportswriter. For years, he continued, he wanted to write the story of Clara Ward, the gospel singer who like Smith was a native Philadelphian, and also write about the Caravans, a top gospel group of the 1950s and 1960s that included Albertina Walker and Shirley Caesar.

The columnist said he also wanted to wait until his granddaughter, Ashley Michelle Arnold, got a foothold in journalism. She is now a production assistant at KYW-TV, the CBS-owned station in Philadelphia.

"What I say to my granddaughter is to have an appreciation for the big story, what's important to people, what's interesting, although more and more the pendulum is swinging toward what's interesting," Smith said.

"For the young columnists coming along, what they'll have to deal with is being heard above the din. People are selling attitudes. It's very difficult for young opinion writers to make a point without getting into that scrum. Everybody's got an opinion today, and they're everywhere. It can be as little as 14 words in a tweet. The difficulty is to maintain your integrity."

Smith sees a difference between those write to provoke thought — as he says he does — and those pontificate to cater to the biases of their readers. "If your point is always to be in that fixed place, say to drive Barack Obama out of office, you will do that at all costs. . . . When you know what people want to hear, you will either ignore or walk away from that truth that you should be telling," he said.

"You have to be true to your journalism. I am consciously corny about this stuff, and I don't care who hears it."

 

Ashley Michelle ArnoldThings I’ve Learned From My Grandfather 

 

Short Takes

* Jack Del Rio, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, "walked through the doors of Roswell Park Cancer Institute to visit my friend and colleague, Allen Wilson. His only agenda was making Wilson's day a little brighter than his smile, a major accomplishment to be sure," Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason wrote Sunday. "If you're wondering why Wilson has been absent from our Bills coverage, it's because he's fighting a life-threatening illness. He had managed chronic leukemia with medication for 3 1/2 years before the disease struck back in full force, the way it often does."

* "SportsNewser will no longer exist as a standalone website starting tomorrow, September 1st," Alex Weprin, senior editor of mediabistro.com, wrote on Wednesday. ". . . Many thanks to SportsNewser's founding editors Marcus Vanderberg and Noah Davis, as well as Cam Martin, who joined us in April." Alan M. Meckler, chairman and CEO of WebMediaBrands, told Journal-isms by email Tuesday, "SportsNewser . . . will become part of TVNewser. It will have distinctive posts indicating they are from SportsNewser. The whole idea is that TVNewser is a dominant brand - huge traffic. And sports is a topic of importance in and around what TVNewser does. So the idea is making things a bit easier for management to run 19 blogs instead of 20. Those writing for SportsNewser will still be contributing. Alex Weprin, for example, is very much associated with TVNewser and also posts on SportsNewser."

* President Obama appeared on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" on Tuesday. He talked about the work of Martin Luther King Jr. "making possible his very presence in the Oval Office. And he described two important symbols that he sees every day - the Norman Rockwell painting of Ruby Bridges, the black child who integrated a New Orleans elementary school, newly installed in the White House, and a framed original program from King's March on Washington," Peter Wallsten wrote Tuesday for the Washington Post.

*"The Tennessean announced today that editor Mark Silverman will leave the newspaper and join the Gannett Co. Inc. U.S. Community Publishing Division's corporate news staff in mid-September," the Nashville newspaper reported Tuesday. Silverman was editor of The Tennessean for nearly five years. In his new position, Silverman will be part of a team helping the company's news organizations transform their coverage and increase their local impact at a time when the media landscape is changing rapidly."

* "Home run king Barry Bonds will be back in federal court on Dec. 16 to be sentenced for his felony obstruction of justice conviction," the Associated Press reported Tuesday. "A jury convicted Bonds in April of giving an evasive, rambling reply when asked whether he received drugs that required a syringe." At the National Association of Black Journalists' annual convention in August, some mbmers challenged the NABJ board's decision last year to accept $20,000 from the Barry Bonds Family Foundation to encourage and promote journalistic entrepreneurship among black journalists. A motion not to accept money from convicted felons or from those accused was referred to a committee after objections that the language was too broad.

* "MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry marked the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a searing monologue about what she saw as the country's failure to learn from the disaster on Monday's 'Rachel Maddow Show,' " the Huffington Post reported. ". . . She criticized the country's lack of progress on the vulnerabilities that Katrina exposed, namely the inadequacies in public infrastructure and the racial and economic disparities that made the hurricane so devastating."

* "Al Sharpton used his first night as a permanent host on MSNBC to squarely tell his viewers what his anchor style would be - and to warn them not to touch the dial," the Huffington Post reported. ". . . 'I'm not going to be a robotic host reading the teleprompter like a robot,' he said. 'Nor am I going to come in here and do the James Brown and do the electric slide to prove to you that I'm not stiff.' "

* "CBS Sports Network will examine the first black college football game played in New York City as part of a documentary airing Sept. 28," R. Thomas Umstead wrote last week for Multichannel News. "The one-hour documentary, '1st & Goal In The Bronx: Grambling vs. Morgan State 1968,' will chronicle that game between those schools in New York City and the cultural and political context surrounding it."

* "A date with CNN's Don Lemon doesn't come cheap," Gail Shister wrote Tuesday for TVNewser. "Internet entrepreneur David Hauslaib bid $1,050 for the privilege Saturday at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association auction, held on the final night of its 2011 national convention in Philadelphia."

* "The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of a jailed journalist in Sudan, but is troubled by reports of the continued detention of at least eight others without charge. President Omar al-Bashir had announced Saturday that he would free all journalists detained in Sudan," the press freedom organization said Tuesday.

* In Congo, "An estimated 200 Congolese journalists marched to the National Assembly in Kinshasa on Friday to show their outrage over reports that supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila have physically and verbally abused members of the press," Mohamed Keita reported Tuesday for the press freedom group.

* In Syria, "President Bashar Al-Assad yesterday approved changes to Syria's media legislation that are part of a series of planned reforms intended to end an ongoing wave of anti-government protests," Reporters Without Borders said on Monday. "The new law tries to give the impression that the media are being given more freedom. . . . Article 12 nonetheless calls for 'responsible freedom of expression' and bans any reporting that incites violence or sectarian divisions, or threatens national unity. It also bans any report about the armed forces, including the army."

Comments

April 7, 1991

'Minor' call, major gaffe

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe

Let us bury the term " minority." Minoriteee ends like tineee, which ends like weeneee, which ends like dinkeee. When corporate and newsroom executives utter the mantra, "We could use a minoriteee," I swear they have invented a human specieee so darn puneee, it is a fait accompleee that the search for a minoriteee will be met with futiliteee. At best, I think of "minoriteees" as midgets. Circus midgets are never ringleaders. They are the boobeees. At worst, I think, "eeensie weensee minoriteee crawled up the water spout; down came the rain and . . ."

Minority is built on a pretty sorry root word, "minor." Minor means "lesser." It means "lesser in importance, rank or stature." It means "lesser" in seriousness or danger; requiring comparatively little attention or concern."

Last but not lesser, "minor" means "A person or thing that is lesser in comparison to others of the same class."

How small can you get? "Minority" is so ingrained in white-dominated culture when talking about black, brown and yellow people, it is often used when it makes no sense.

Recently, Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles said about the 1990 census, "Traditionally, those from the minority community have been undercounted. . ." This comes from an African American mayor of a giant city which is only 37 percent made up of Anglo white people.

The U.S. is still mostly white. But as the percentage of Latino and Asian Americans has grown dramatically, the percentage of white Americans has shrunk from 83 to 80 percent, or 76 percent, after subtracting white Latinos.

There are now too many big places like New York, Chicago and Washington where the concerns of "minorities " have become a majority interest. Boston's public school system is 80 percent children of color. The University of California at Los Angeles recently announced that its percentage of students of Asian descent has passed that of white students.

As late as the 1950s, sociologists subdivided European Americans into "cultural minorities. " As sure as white flight to the suburbs, the term was shortened and gladly handed off to people of color, people who have not uniformly shared in the trafficking of economic and political power.

Eradicating the term "minority" is a beginning toward forcing this country to recognize ethnic and color groups in specific contexts. All people of color might be suffer from discrimination and bigotry. Some groups clearly work together on common agendas. In Massachusetts, the head of the state's black political caucus is a Latino man.

But there is also no question that people of differing Asian descents are in vastly different economic circumstances. Miami Cuban Americans have amassed far more power than Puerto Ricans. Many African Americans have accused college administrators of bragging about " minority" enrollments and "staff" while padding the figures with more preferable students of color and black secretaries.

Many people of color have come to assume white business and educational leaders to be disingenuous when they lump together "women and minorities." This grouping is odd on face value, since women are the majority gender of this country. Then, having given themselves a choice, white men often make white women the alpha and omega of any commitment to diversity, and at that, it is still hideously imperfect.

Call me an African American. Call me a black person not just "a black," which raises the question of, "black what?" e. Call me a person of color which is different from "colored." Colored suggests coloring in or over something. Of color means simply having a color, as is.

Just do not call me a "minority." By the dictionary alone, the term is a blatant diminution of one's humanity. People of color do not say, "Golleee Miss Molleee, what is wrong with those majoritieees?" Western culture does not allow for white people to be thought of in the abstract.

In baseball, the minor leagues are the chump leagues. In music, sad songs are sung in a minor key. In government, the minority party is out of power. To call a human being a "minority " is to shrink them in the mind to somewhere between mouse and gnat at the very time their numbers are becoming a lion's roar. A " minority" can be nothing more than a midget, unseen and unwanted by the gargantuan majoriteee.