Bill Cosby's attorney John P. Schmitt issued a statement Monday criticizing journalist Stacy M. Brown, who interviewed the comedian for a story published online Saturday in the New York Post and the Washington Informer. "Schmitt alleges his client was unaware the conversation was being recorded and would wind up in the Post," Travis Reilly reported Monday for The Wrap.
"Mr. Brown did not indicate that he was interviewing Mr. Cosby for publication, did not say that he was reporting for the New York Post, and did not tell Mr. Cosby that the conversation was being recorded,' Schmitt wrote in a statement obtained by TheWrap. 'In a discussion of journalistic standards, Mr. Brown failed to adhere to the most basic standards of his profession.'
"Cosby has been accused of raping, sexually assaulting or drugging more than 20 women in recent weeks. His interview with Brown was one of the only times the comedian has broken his silence since the allegations began mounting.
"During Cosby's conversation with Brown, the TV legend reportedly said he expected 'the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism' by approaching the story with a 'neutral mind.'
"According to his attorney, Cosby was under the impression that Brown, a freelance journalist, was speaking to him on behalf of an African-American news outlet.
" 'Mr. Cosby and Mr. Brown did in fact have a telephone conversation,' the statement read. 'Mr. Brown identified himself as a freelance reporter for a number of African-American media outlets, which prompted Mr. Cosby's comment regarding the African-American media.'
"In an interview with USA Today, Brown did not deny any part of the attorney’s statement.
" 'I'm not going to argue with him or the statement. But the call was so brief,' Brown said. 'It was two minutes. It just wasn't a thing where I could say at the end, "Is this something you mind if I share?" '. . .
" 'Let me say this,' Cosby said, 'I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that, you have to go in with a neutral mind.'
But what is a "neutral mind?" Last month, Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post described a video that showed an Associated Press reporter departing from an interview about Cosby's art collection to ask about the sexual assault allegations.
"After reporter Brett Zongker asked the comedian about allegations that he had raped or sexually abused women, Cosby suggested that such questions were irresponsible," Kennicott wrote. "He and his wife had chosen to sit down with the AP, he said, because they thought the AP was a reputable news organization and would not dig into those unpleasant accusations.
"Cosby tried a classic power play, hoping to intimidate the reporter into suppressing the video: 'I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious, that it will not appear anywhere,' he said to Zongker. After making this equation — between reportorial seriousness and deference to himself — Cosby asked David Brokaw, his longtime media representative, who was standing off-camera, to get on the horn to the AP and do everything possible to ensure that the videotaped encounter was " 'scuttled.' . . ."
While some black journalists said on social media that Cosby was out of bounds in attempting to lecture the black media, Denise Rolark Barnes, who said her Washington Informer actually published Brown's interview before the New York Post did, did not see it that way.
"The request was not necessary, but it established, for the record, that he doesn’t want us, nor expect us, to be anything but neutral," Barnes said by email Monday. "In the past, Mr. Cosby granted an exclusive interview to The Washington Informer, and I presume other Black news organizations, and while we appreciated that opportunity, his statement confirms his expectation, and our responsibility."
BBC: Bill Cosby: Comic counter-suing over sex allegations (Dec. 5)
Rosalind Bentley and Ernie Suggs, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Spelman suspends Cosby chair in wake of growing sexual assault claims
Stacy M. Brown, Washington Informer: How The Informer Scooped Everyone on Bill Cosby
Michael Hechtman, New York Post: Bill Cosby's wife breaks her silence
Beverly Johnson, Vanity Fair: Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story.
Luis Martinez, ABC News: Navy Pulls Bill Cosby's Honorary Chief Title as Allegations Swirl (Dec. 4)
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Losing the Bill Cosby we knew (Dec. 2)
Wendi C. Thomas, Memphis Flyer: The Cosby Show (Dec. 4)
NAHJ's Contreras Resurfaces as Unity President
Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who lost a bitter 2012 election for president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was elected Sunday in an unopposed bid as president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, whose board he joined the same day.
Contreras is not representing NAHJ, which pulled out of the Unity coalition, but was nominated by the Native American Journalists Association, of which he is also a member.
He became a Unity board member during the same conference call in which he was elected president, Mary Hudetz, president of NAJA and a Unity board member, told Journal-isms by email. She said NAJA sought him out.
The Unity group, which originated as a coalition of black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists, now consists of the associations representing Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists. The originators of the coalition have pronounced it dead, but its supporters in the remaining groups are keeping it alive.
Hudetz and Paul Cheung, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, were effusive in their statements about Contreras.
But Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Mekahlo Medina, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, each said Contreras' election changes little. "I wish him good luck but I don't think this changes the issues that NAHJ has with Unity," Medina told Journal-isms by telephone. Both NAHJ and NABJ pulled out citing financial and governance issues.
Contreras, a lifetime NAHJ member, did not attend either NAHJ convention held since his defeat. Hugo Balta, who bested Contreras for president in 2012, messaged Journal-isms, "I think it's an interesting choice. As an outsider looking in, I'm curious about the UNITY board's motivation with such a polarizing figure.
"Having served on the UNITY board, I can attest to the need for leadership that is not only fiscally astute, but also is a unifying voice. It's my experience Russell Contreras is neither."
Contreras, who was vice president/print and financial officer for NAHJ, helped to steer NAHJ out of a steep deficit, but he attained all of his NAHJ positions by running unopposed or by appointment. The 2012 contest with Balta was likely NAHJ's nastiest and came with charges that Contreras used his position to blacklist members who opposed him.
In response, he wrote then, "I created a painful, but needed austerity budget that took NAHJ from $350,000 in the red to a $111,000 surplus in 2011."
On blocking people, he said, "I have no desire to personally engage with a handful of members who continue to attack me and other NAHJ leaders on social media. Such attacks only serve to damage NAHJ's reputation with sponsors. Unfortunately blocking them from my personal pages prevents them from seeing my posts on any NAHJ Facebook pages."
Contreras' election came in a chain of events that included the Unity president, David Steinberg of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, declining to seek another term. "From my understanding UNITY presidents rarely run for reelection," Steinberg said by email. "Also, my employer, Hearst and The SF Chronicle, have been extraordinarily supportive of my work with UNITY and before that with NLGJA and it's time for me to focus now on the opportunities and challenges at work."
With the president's slot open, Contreras was then nominated, with no opposition, and the board voted for him unanimously.
Hudetz told NAJA members of Contreras' appointment in a message posted on the NAJA website Monday.
She also responded to questions from Journal-isms about how Contreras was selected and whether he holds tribal membership.
"Tara Gatewood, who was an outstanding board member for UNITY and is a person I admire very much, graciously stepped down less than three weeks before the end of her term to make the appointment possible," Hudetz said.
"Russell became a board member and was voted president in the same conference call yesterday.
"Yes, we sought him out and asked if he would be up to the task of leading UNITY. He is the right person right now for the president's position for so many reasons. Just a handful of them include that he is committed to diversity in newsrooms and fairness in news coverage; he understands what is needed to help in the reorganization of an operation to make it more efficient for the good of the mission; he has great ideas; he is supportive of his fellow journalists as they work to move ahead in their careers; and I believe he is best-suited for facilitating cooperation for UNITY programs and bringing in new collaborators.
"As you may have seen on social media, there has been renewed discussion and optimism today in regards to the organization with news of Russell's appointment. He also has been a supporter and/or member of multiple minority journalism associations over the years.
"We have different categories of membership at NAJA for members. One does not have to be a member of a tribe to be a NAJA member. Russell does not claim affiliation with a tribe in the U.S., however, he does claim Indigenous ancestry. We have NAJA members with diverse backgrounds who also belong to other associations, and who are certainly eligible to represent NAJA and other groups. Russell is one of them."
Contreras told Tracie Powell of alldigitocracy.org by telephone on Sunday, "Our opponents are those who don't support diversity, not each other. UNITY is no longer in competition with any other group advocating for journalists of color. Whatever UNITY is will be in addition to what those other groups do. They can continue to exist under their sovereign missions and not worry about another group like UNITY coming along and fighting for sponsor dollars.”
Contreras also told Powell, "UNITY needs to re-position its mission and come up with new revenue sources. Raising money through conventions is outdated. …We need to be issue driven."
Cheung told Journal-isms by email, "Russ has [a] track record with NAJA as well as NAHJ. I know he has been a NAJA member since 2001. In fact, this is how he got started at the AP. It was at the 2001 NAJA convention in Buffalo. He met Derrick Henry from the AP and applied for the AP internship from NAJA and was assigned to the Trenton Bureau. Since then, he has been active with NAJA, organizing panels as well as mentoring students.
"As UNITY President, Russ [plans] on developing a strategic plan for UNITY with short-term and long term goals. This plan will include efforts to rebrand the UNITY for its next phase and plans for regional events and a possible [national] event. The plan will stress the need to help alliance partners increase their membership and regional events will be targeted in areas national groups do not visit (ie possible regional conference in Alabama or New Mexico on covering poverty or in El Paso on immigration). The plan will include ideas for new sources of revenue and long-term efforts to create a new business model for new groups to join UNITY if they so choose."
Hands Up! Read This!
This list of nonfiction books by journalists of color or of special interest to them can seem straight from the headlines.
"Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System," by lawyer Robbin Shipp and journalist and author Nick Chiles, offers a survival guide as streets nationwide swell. Protesters chant, "Hands up, don't shoot!" or "I can't breathe!," fired up by the police shootings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and other African Americans.
Some journalists of color, such as fashion writer Teri Agins, are putting their expertise to work in book form, while others are finding rewarding work as ghostwriters or co-authors for such nonjournalists as Essence magazine co-founder Edward Lewis, star ballerina Misty Copeland, black power-turned-education activist Howard Fuller and, in a big-name breakthrough, legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells.
Authors Jeff Chang and Alex Tizon have turned their pens to the subject of race, with Tizon, a Filipino-American Pulitzer Prize winner, doing so in an unprecedented way. As Paul Cheung, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, told Journal-isms by email, "The subject of Asian muscularity is not something we (popular culture) talk too much about. . . . Alex Tizon's book captivated the raw emotions of how he [tries] to find his place as an Asian American."
This column continues "Journalists' Fall Offerings," published Sept. 5. Prices listed are mostly the publishers' and may be discounted by retailers.
Teri Agins, fashion advice columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has written "Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers" (Gotham Books, $28 hardcover; $14.99 ebook).
Patrik Henry Bass of Essence magazine wrote for NY1: "You don't have to appreciate the allure of superstars or supermodels to enjoy 'Hijacking the Runway,' a new non-fiction page-turner by veteran Wall Street journal reporter Teri Agins. In this literary mash-up of Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita' and Robert Altman's 'Pret-a-Porter,' Agins confidently takes us inside fashion and what feels like circus tents to chronicle the improbable fall of several venerable design houses to forces with even bigger egos and backers: celebrities.
"But 'Hijacking the Runway' is so much more. Agins holds up a mirror to contemporary culture, and what we see staring back are some ugly truths about the triumph of marketing and branding over art, our endless addiction to star power, and how social media allows some individuals to cash in their 15 minutes of fame for an ever bigger bounty: mega millions via deals with discount chains, department stores and shopping channels.
"Like her 1999 hit, 'The End of Fashion,' Agins spices this splashy cocktail with more bold-faced names than the Andy Warhol Diaries. And like her first book, 'Hijacking the Runway' is packed with memorable anecdotes, including a lesson in hubris that even Kanye West had to learn.
"And the book isn't just about the famous. You'll enjoy reading about the rise and rise of Yakini Etheridge, and how this psychologist by day is now sought after by advertisers who crave her Midas touch. . . ."
Teri Agins, YouTube: Hijacking the Runway (video) (1 of 3)
Chavie Lieber, racked.com: Veteran Reporter Teri Agins on How Celebrities Have Stolen the Fashion Spotlight
Ruben Castaneda, who worked for 22 years as a staff writer for the Washington Post, has authored "S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C." (Bloomsbury USA, $26 hardcover).
In listing this book among "50 notable works of nonfiction" for 2014, Daniel Stashower wrote for the Washington Post, "By day, Ruben Castaneda was an ambitious young reporter for The Washington Post. By night, he made the round of drug slingers on S Street, buying crack and sinking deeper into addiction. Castaneda — who eventually devoted himself to recovery with the same energy he'd brought to chasing highs — tells a gritty and utterly convincing street-level portrait of the 1990s."
Aaron MacLean wrote last month for the Washington Free Beacon, "S Street Rising by Ruben Castaneda is at least five different books, all for the price of one. It is a score-settling D.C. memoir by a veteran Washington Post reporter; a well-reported account of a particular corner of the Washington neighborhood of Shaw; an urban noir thriller with betrayal and high-level criminality; a love letter to the reporter's favorite source, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who commanded the city's homicide unit during the drug wars; and — most marketably — it is the memoir of a crack addict, complete with rock-bottom-to-redemption narrative arc. . . ."
Current and former Posties might enjoy the glimpses inside the Post, such as this one involving Jo-Ann Armao, the then-Metro editor who reassigns Castaneda.
" 'I don't want to leave the city,' I said.
"Jo-Ann smiled. 'I can assign you anywhere."
"It was a threat. The Post had news bureaus way out in Virginia, in Loudoun County and Prince William County. The tiny towns that dotted them weren't Mayberrys — they were places that aspired to be Mayberrys. . . ."
Vivek Wadhwa and Farai Chideya offer "Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology" (Diversion Books, $7.99 paper).
"With interviews and essays from hundreds of women in STEM fields, including Google[X] VP Megan Smith, venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, Patriarch Partners CEO Lynn Tilton, and entrepreneur and technology executive Kim Polese, Innovating Women offers fresh perspectives on the challenges that women face, the strategies that they employ in the workplace, and how an organization can succeed or fail in its attempts to support the career advancement of women," according to the book's website.
Included is a chapter on "The Misadventures of Motherhood and Management" by S. Mitra Kalita, executive editor at large of the Quartz news site.
Chideya is a veteran of ABC News, CNN and NPR who recently launched One With Farai, which produces public radio podcasts and broadcast specials. Wadhwa, who holds positions at Stanford, Duke and Singularity universities, was listed by Time magazine in 2013 as one of the 40 most influential minds in tech.
Nick Chiles, onetime journalist for Newsday who has turned to writing or co-writing books — including six with his wife, Denene Millner — is co-author with Decatur, Ga., lawyer Robbin Shipp of "Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System." (Agate Bolden, $14 paper).
Shipp writes in her foreword, "Three years in the making, this book is intended as a guide to help anyone ensnared in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, in this nation, that typically means African-American males.
"After we shelved the original outline for two years, this book was reborn after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Not since my father's death have I cried as much as I did when the [George] Zimmerman verdict was read. I cried because, as Fannie Lou Hamer said, 'I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I cried over this nation's propensity to be okay with the mass incarceration and death of hundreds of thousands of African American men. . . "
Terri Schlichenmeyer wrote in the New Journal & Guide in Norfolk, Va., "Like a gavel on a judge’s bench, author Robbin Shipp (with Nick Chiles) hammers home point after important point on each page, with information that will make you want to take notes (but you don't have to; there's a handy synopsis in the back). Her advice covers adults and children as young as four years old, male and female, and includes tips on minimizing trouble and finding the right attorney. I was astounded at this book (oh, those stats!) and at what can be learned in 160 short pages. . . ."
Nick Chiles and Robbin Shipp, C-SPAN: Book Discussion on Justice While Black (video) (Dec. 2)
Elias Isquith, Salon: "The game is rigged": Longtime defense attorney Robbin Shipp takes on the carceral state (Oct. 16)
Nunyo Demasio, a sportswriter who has worked at the Daily News in New York, Sports Illustrated, ESPN: The Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Seattle Times, has co-authored "Parcells: A Football Life" (Crown Archetype, $30 hardcover; Downpour audio, $19.50) with the legendary Bill Parcells. As Bookreporter.com reported, "The modern history of the NFL can't be told without Bill Parcells as a central character."
Demasio's accomplishment makes him one of the few black journalists to win such an assignment.
How did Demasio land this job? Demasio told Journal-isms by email, "after leaving SI several years ago, i told bill parcells that i wanted to do the definitive biography on him. he didn't commit for quite a while, but was willing to meet me in saratoga springs after i sent him an informal proposal about the book, and some personal information about me focusing on my mother's own amazing life story. i received funding from a close friend so that i could work on the book for several years, and hire a couple of people to play key roles."
Asked to elaborate, Demasio added, "After moving to Harlem, USA from Ghana in 1975 and divorcing her husband, my mother, Dorcas Demasio, raised five kids, including three boys and put us all through college by working around the clock. She herself also ended up with multiple degrees.
"I hired a fantastic freelance editor, Peter Guzzardi, to help me polish the manuscript. I also hired an NFL historian, Dan Daly, to provide football insight while vetting material to help make the book bigger than Bill Parcells. A friend of mine with deep connections in publishing named Kurt Andersen served as what I call my 'pro bono consigliere.' One of my mentors, Ira Berkow, also read chapters and gave me feedback. I worked intermittently on the book for six years. The close friend who funded most of the project is Rhahime Bell who I grew up with in Harlem. I won't say the exact amount that he shelled out, but it was easily six figures. I lived in Manhattan for several years without a full-time job, which gives you an idea just by doing the math."
Miriam Tuliao wrote Nov. 21 for bookreporter.com, "This compelling biography is not simply the story of one coach who served as a teacher, disciplinarian, father figure, leader and mentor to many. Rather, it offers multiple perspectives on the history of the sport, its teams and individual members with captivating portraits of key central figures such as Lawrence Taylor, [Bill] Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Terrell Owens and Curtis Martin."
Sports Illustrated published an excerpt in October.
Edward Lewis, with Audrey Edwards, has produced "The Man From Essence" (Atria Books, $25 hardcover; $12.99 ebook).
When Lewis and Edwards appeared in August at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, veteran journalist Betty Bayé was moved to recount how much Essence magazine meant to aspiring black women writers.
As this book's promotional material says, "Essence magazine is the most popular, well respected, and largest circulated black women's magazine in history." It goes on to say of Lewis, "He would emerge to become the last man standing — the only partner to survive the battles that raged before the magazine was sold to Time, Inc. in the largest buyout of a black-owned publication by the world's largest publishing company."
Jonathan Sebastian Blount, one of the original Essence partners, reminds us that Lewis is telling only one version of the Essence story, which Blount maintained by email is full of "glaring deficiencies, lies and memory lapses." Blount and others will never forgive Lewis for selling the previously black-owned company to Time. "ESSENCE has yet to reach the Global growth and market penetration and leadership that we originally envisioned," Blount said, adding that he is planning his own book.
Edwards has spent most of her career in magazines, including More and Black Enterprise, but is best known as a former editor at Essence. "Ed is a dream to work with," she told Journal-isms as she was completing the book, repeating the sentiment when she appeared with Lewis at the NABJ conference.
Howard W. French, an associate professor at Columbia Journalism School who has reported from both China and Africa for the New York Times and Washington Post, and written 2004's "A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa," has produced "China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa" (Knopf, $27.95 hardcover; $13.27, paper, $14.99 ebook)
"In his extraordinary new book 'China's Second Continent,' Howard W. French delves into the lives of some of the one million-plus Chinese migrants he says are now building careers in Africa," Alexis Okeowo wrote in July for the New York Times Book Review.
"For all the debate about China's intentions (imperialist or not?) and business practices (corrupt or not?) on the continent, the key piece of the discussion, French argues, has been ignored: the actual lives of those Chinese who have uprooted themselves to settle and work in Africa. Even as China has become the world's fastest-growing large economy, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing economies between 2013 and 2017 are projected to be in Africa. As French writes, 'Bit by bit, these facts have become closely intertwined.' The recent Chinese immigrants are the glue holding them together. And the stories French tells are fascinating.
"French's characters range from the mundane to the outrageous. . . ."
Kyle Hutzler wrote June 30 for the Huffington Post, "It is the stories of the individuals who have come to Africa independent of the Chinese state that French tells like no one before him. . . . French also captures well the frustrations many Africans hold against this surge of Chinese attention . . ."
Charisse Jones, a travel reporter for USA Today, is co-author with Misty Copeland of "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina" (Touchstone, $26 hardcover).
Copeland is hot. This month, "Life in Motion" book was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. The Oxygen network has slated "The Misty Copeland Project" as one of four new series for "young, multicultural women," Tambay A. Obenson reported last month for Shadow and Act. The series will follow "the star ballerina as she trains and mentors talented hopefuls from diverse backgrounds, who descend upon New York City to take on the next major step in their ballet careers. With the opportunity of a lifetime and chance to catapult to the top of the ballet world, these aspiring dancer's passion, commitment and hard work will be center stage in Misty's Master Class.
"This will be one of a small handful of upcoming new Misty Copeland projects in the works," Obenson continued. "Nelson George is already working on a feature documentary on Copeland — the first black woman in two decades to be a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre . . . . And in addition to George's doc, a scripted feature film on Copeland's life just may be coming to a theater near you in the future. Earlier this year, New Line Cinema optioned film rights to Copeland's memoir, 'Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,' which recounts her early struggles as a young dancer living in a welfare motel with her family. The book provides an insider's look at the cutthroat world of professional ballet, telling a moving story of dreams and perseverance. . ."
Jada Gomez-Lacayo, writing for NewsOne, called the book "a must-read for all women" and offered readers "8 lessons from Misty’s inspirational story. . ."
Jones is co-author of the upcoming "Unlocking the Truth," a memoir of the 8th-grade, African American heavy metal band of the same name that is due out next year.
ABC News: Excerpt: Misty Copeland's 'Life in Motion' (March 6)
Brandis Friedman, WTTW-TV, Chicago: Misty Copeland on 'Life in Motion' (video) (Oct. 2)
Dick Lehr, a journalism professor at Boston University and former Boston Globe reporter, has written "The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War" (PublicAffairs, $26.99 hardcover; $26.99 ebook).
In the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Frankel called this "a lively and well-researched book about the film," and said Lehr "focuses his lens on two men: [D.W.] Griffith, the Kentucky-born son of a slaveholder who wrote, produced and directed it; and William Monroe Trotter, the Boston-born son of a slave who, as a fiery editor of a pro-civil-rights newspaper [the Boston Guardian], led the effort to have the film banned. Both were difficult, complicated and blustery men prone to self-aggrandizement and outlandish rhetorical flourishes. Mr. Lehr, a longtime journalist and a professor at Boston University, nicely draws the parallels between them even as he chronicles their bitter divisions over race, politics and culture."
Tom Meek added for Boston's WBUR-FM website, "As with all his works, Lehr tries to put himself in the shoes of his subjects, going to the places they frequented and cherished. 'It's essential,' Lehr says, 'to get the details right to let people know what it was like to be there back then.' The book holds many such nuanced immersions into the time and place. The breadth and depth is great and meticulous, and it captures a righteous occurrence of civil disobedience in our city’s rich past while revolving around an esoteric figure who, thanks to Lehr, should become less so now."
Trotter is the namesake of the Trotter Group of African American columnists, and of the William Monroe Trotter Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Betty Medsger, a founding member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and founder of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University, has written "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI" (Knopf, $29.95, hardcover; Vintage, 16.95, paper).
On March 8, 1971, a group broke into an FBI office in Media, Pa., and stole every document. Medsger told Journal-isms in January, "The racial files that emerged initially and later are, to me, the most important aspect of what we discovered about Hoover's secret FBI. As long as he was alive, black people never had a chance to have their case for basic rights taken seriously."
Medsger, a Washington Post reporter at the time, writes at one point, "It was clear from the documents that black students were regarded as potentially violent and therefore as appropriate subjects to be watched and to have their actions recorded in FBI files. . . ."
Post columnist Colbert I. King is quoted in a blurb, "Imagine a revered despot who believed African-Americans were a threat to the Republic and had to be kept under constant surveillance. That's not a nightmare. It happened, including actions destructively worse . . . The Burglary captures every disgusting and chilling detail. Could it happen again? "
Lisa Frazier Page, a former editor and writer at the Washington Post now living in Louisiana, where she is community news managing producer for Nola.com and the Times-Picayune, has co-written with Howard Fuller "No Struggle No Progress: A Warrior's Life from Black Power to Education Reform" (Marquette University Press, $20 paper).
If ever one wonders how the ideals of the 1960s play out in the new millennium, just ask Fuller. As he recounts in this memoir, "I'd worked as a community organizer in North Carolina in the mid- to late 1960s and had been hated by the white political establishment there. I'd also founded Malcolm X Liberation University in 1969 and was a Black Power advocate known by the African name that the university students bestowed on me: Owusu Sadaukai. I got involved in the African Liberation Movement in the early 1970s and later even studied Marxism as a union organizer."
Fuller says this in explaining why in the new millennium he was advising George W. Bush on education policy. Fuller became superintendent of schools in Milwaukee and today is an advocate of school vouchers, which he sees as an extension of his work on behalf of poor black children.
Writing in Education Week, Rick Hess wrote in September that Fuller's book "is as forceful and engaging as its author. . . Part autobiography, part policy treatise, part manifesto, the book is stuffed with telling detail and from-the-shoulder wisdom. The best description I can offer is that it was like spending a half-day listening to Howard tell stories and impart hard-won wisdom. If you know Howard, I don't really need to say any more than that. If you don't know Howard, think of a long conversation with your no-illusions, straight-talking, seen-it-all uncle. Let me keep it simple: read this book. . . ."
Page, who has collaborated with others on memoirs, told a National Press Club audience at the book's September launch that the pair worked on the project for two years. Her task with Fuller was "to push him to remember and take him to places in time that were not always pleasant to visit. He was open and at times very vulnerable. He was not one to point fingers and where there were failures, he took all of the credit."
Fuller said at the press club, "I wanted for young people who read the book to realize that struggle is a long-time proposition. It takes perseverance and you have to have a commitment to something larger than yourself. I'm on a rescue mission now. I want to rescue as many of my people as I can. If I can just rescue one kid — two kids— eight kids, nobody in this room knows what that may mean to the world."
Milton Coleman, YouTube: Howard Fuller Interview by Milton Coleman (Washington Post) (video) (Sept. 7)
Breanna Edwards, The Root: Education: By Any Means Necessary (Sept. 13)
Howard Fuller with Kojo Nnamdi, "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," WAMU-FM, Washington: From Black Power to Education Reform with Howard Fuller (audio) (Sept. 9)
Dr. Bob Pavlik, Marquette Educator: Tireless Champion for Children: A Tribute to Howard Fuller (2010)
Ron Stodghill, a longtime journalist who is assistant professor and director of diversity, workforce, and small business development at Johnson C. Smith University, has edited "Let There Be Light: An Anthology Exploring How Charlotte's Historic West End Is Shaping a New South" (Johnson C. Smith University, $14.95, paper). Journalists Mary C. Curtis, Eric Frazier, Mae Israel and Mary Newsom are among the contributors.
"I have remained haunted by that abrupt borderline that marks the boundary between Charlotte's two very different worlds," writes Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith, referring to the haves and have-nots, in the foreword. Carter said he turned to Stodghill, a former New York Times reporter and onetime editor of Savoy magazine, "to oversee efforts to bring the Corridor's forgotten history to light and to give voice to its residents. My belief in necessity of empowering the forgotten and disenfranchised to speak is the inspiration and driving force for this book. . . . In fact, I see this volume as merely the initial effort in a multi-volume series."
Alex Tizon, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Seattle Times who teaches journalism at the University of Oregon, has written "Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 hardcover; $27 ebook).
Tizon, who came to the United States from the Philippines as a 4-year-old, has written a fascinating book that will be revelatory for those who are not Asian American men.
"In the America that I grew up in, men of Asia placed last in the hierarchy of manhood. They were invisible in the high-testosterone arenas of politics and big business and sports. On television and in the movies, they were worse than invisible: they were embarrassing. We were embarrassing. The Asian male in cinema was synonymous with nebbish. They made great extras. In crowd scenes that required running away, Asian men excelled. They certainly did not play strong male lead roles, because apparently there were no strong Asian males with sex appeal. On the public sex appeal scale, Asian men did not even register. They were hairless, passionless, dickless. Tiny minions. Houseboys. . . .
"At school, it was as much what was not taught. Asians simply did not come up in history class, except as victims who needed saving (Filipinos, South Koreans, South Vietnamese) or as wily enemies who inevitably lost (Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese) or as enemies who managed not to lose by withstanding mind-boggling casualties (North Koreans, North Vietnamese.)"
Tizon articulates the toll that the prevailing while male standard takes on others' psyches. Tizon devotes entire chapters to such subjects as why Asian Americans are shorter than many Asians in Asia, Asian American women's preference for white men, and even a discussion of the size of Asian American men's private parts. He travels to the Philippines and to China, where he finds that unlike in the United States, "the manliest of men were philosopher-warriors, and more philosopher than warrior."
The standard also plays out in the news media. "Television places a premium on physical attractiveness — telegenic appeal — and Asian women and men, as we know, are perceived to occupy opposite ends of the spectrum," Tizon writes. "But you could never get TV news executives to say this publicly. . . ." Yet, he adds, "It remains to be seen whether the widespread acceptance of Asian women in anchoring roles will lead to executive posts with real decision-making power in news organizations."
Tizon's story can resonate with other journalists of color as he turns his "otherness" to an advantage. "My own lifelong sense of feeling invisible, and living with others like my father who experienced the same, somehow became useful. I developed the sensory apparatus to apprehend fellow invisibles. . . ."
Hans Rollman wrote of Tizon in PopMatters, "by telling his own story, he has also told the story of countless others. Or at least, he has revealed the complicated stories lurking within millions of other racialized Americans and immigrants. To have the insight and courage to tell such a story undoubtedly places him among those daring pioneers, the absence of which he felt so acutely in his own childhood."
Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times Sunday Book Review: Minority Report (Sept. 5)
Maynard Institute for Journalism Education: Alex Tizon Q & A (Oct. 23)
Alex Tizon with Tavis Smiley, "Tavis Smiley," PBS (video) (July 10)
Caroline Brewer, a onetime editorial writer at the Record in Hackensack, N.J., has the 60-page "Parent Power: How to Raise a Reading Superstar," (Unchained Spirit Enterprises, $19.95 paper). Brewer is described as author, education consultant, literacy therapist and motivator.
Todd Steven Burroughs, a native of Newark, N.J., black-press historian and self-described "journalist, historian and popular culture geek," has recorded "Son-Shine on Cracked Sidewalks," a free audiobook about his coverage of Ras Baraka's May mayoral victory in Newark. Baraka is the son of famed poet Amiri Baraka, who died in January.
Dinah Eng, long active in the Asian American Journalists Association, and the editors of Fortune magazine have produced "How I Got Started: The Secrets of America's Greatest Entrepreneurs" (iTunes, $4.99 download.) The publishers say, "This collection of 26 stories offers unfiltered access to the thinking, insights and experiences that these founders needed to make businesses work: How Pleasant Rowland's unshakeable belief in her product gave birth to American Girl. How Jim McCann's authenticity rescued his 1-800-FLOWERS from crippling debt. And how wanderlust, a cache of surplus clothes and a sideline flea market business inspired Mel and Patricia Ziegler to start Banana Republic. . . ."
Harold Holzer, the Roger Hertog Fellow at the New York Historical Society, has written "Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion" (Simon & Schuster, $37.50 hardcover). "The popular press . . . was slippery, making Lincoln’s efforts to deal with it immensely challenging," David S. Reynolds wrote in October for the New York Times Sunday Book Review. "Deal with it he did, in masterly fashion. . . ."
Quincy T. Mills, who teaches history at Vassar College, has written "Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America" (University of Pennsylvania Press, $34.95 hardcover, $20 paper; $19.99 ebook). Viewing history through the prism of black barbers can be fascinating, whether discussing the enslaved who used barbershops as part of the Underground Railroad, how catering to white men meant black barbers refused to cut black hair or how the shops became civil rights battlegrounds when blacks forced white barbers near college campuses to cut their hair as well. Interview of Mills by Kojo Nnamdi, WAMU-FM, Washington.
Suzette Martinez Standring, a syndicated spirituality columnist and blogger and author of "The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists," has written "The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists" (RRP International, $17.08 paper; $9.99 ebook.) Included are columnists of color Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and Lynne Varner, formerly of the Seattle Times. "Each chapter features an op-ed columnist who shares his/her personal struggles and triumphs, as well as practical advice about opinion writing," Standring writes in the prologue.